Note from the airport Bogotá pictures
Apr 122008

Good morning from Bogotá. I spent the entire day yesterday in a conference / strategy meeting attended by more than 100 human-rights defenders from all over Colombia. Though it was fascinating and informative, it did have a few slow moments, during which I wrote the following about this week’s fight over the free-trade agreement.

Many Republican members of Congress from blue-collar, swing districts no doubt breathed a sigh of relief yesterday. Thanks to the House Democratic leadership’s unprecedented change in the “fast track” rules, these vulnerable legislators would not have to cast a potentially damaging vote for the Colombia Free Trade Agreement before the November elections.

While opinions about the FTA diverge sharply, few members of Congress could have been anxious to debate and vote on a controversial free-trade agreement in the midst of an election year (an election year in which the free trade issue has already arisen a few times), while the economy appears to be in recession. In this climate, even an FTA with Canada or Norway would have been in trouble – and Colombia is not Canada or Norway.

Now that “fast track” is stripped out, though, what happens next? This week’s move in Congress leaves some key questions unanswered.

1. Is the agreement dead, or is the intention to bring it up in 2009?

While the White House and House Republican leaders clearly believe that the FTA was “killed” on Thursday, that is not certain. Some speculate that the Congress might try to vote on the FTA between the November election and the January negotiation. A more likely scenario could be that it comes up in 2009, with a new (presumably Democratic-majority) Congress and a new (anyone’s guess which party) administration.

Bringing up the agreement in 2009 would give Colombia’s justice system more time to reach verdicts in dozens – we would prefer hundreds – of cases against union-members’ murderers. A year to take a big piece out of the impunity that labor leaders’ killers have traditionally enjoyed. If that progress takes place, one of the Democrats’ main objections to the FTA would be weakened, and even a President Obama or a President Clinton might argue that their expectations for change in Colombia have been met.

2. Will the agreement have to be re-negotiated?

Even if Colombia locks up dozens of unionist killers by next year, however, the agreement will still be very controversial. The U.S. labor community will continue to oppose the FTA as another example of an objectionable “model” or “template” that dates back to NAFTA and CAFTA. Others will remain concerned about other aspects of the treaty like its effect on smallholding agriculture in Colombia or the impact of higher intellectual property standards.
If the agreement is to come up again, the next administration and congressional leaders will have to decide whether progress against unionist killings (if there is any) is enough – or whether the entire agreement must go back to the drawing board.

3. What is the congressional Democrats’ message to Colombia and Latin America?

Either way, right now the congressional Democrats do have a public-relations problem in Colombia, and to some extent elsewhere in Latin America.

House Republicans sounded silly Thursday when they called the fast-track rule change “The Hugo Chávez Rule” because, in their view, the United States was abandoning Colombia and conceding more regional influence to the Venezuelan leader. But it is now common to read or hear pundits in Colombia’s media saying that things go better for Colombia with Republicans in office than with Democrats.

It is important to make clear that opposing policies that are too militarized and too skewed toward Latin America’s wealthiest is not the same as “abandoning” the region. But it is incumbent on the Democrats to say clearly how they would engage differently with Colombia and the rest of the region. They can’t be seen just to be obstinately saying “no” to proposals like Plan Colombia and the FTA – but that caricature is proliferating in the region.

Opponents of the reigning policies need to keep articulating what they would do differently. Where aid to Colombia is concerned, the changes that Congress made to the 2008 aid bill make clear the outlines of what a new approach should look like. Now it is time to be clearer about sort of trade deal the FTA’s opponents would say “yes” to.

With yesterday’s vote, the agreement’s opponents now have an opportunity to create a new model for trade engagement, one based on consultations with a far broader sample of both countries’ societies. Congressional Democrats and other constituencies that opposed this FTA should spend the next year engaging publicly and constructively with Colombians who did not have a seat at the table when the agreement was first negotiated.

They must seize this opportunity. It is time to be creative. The alternative is to be caricatured, however unfairly, as the segment of U.S. opinion that simply wants to “walk away” from Colombia and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.

33 Responses to “FTA is frozen. What now?”

  1. Jaime Bustos Says:

    No Comments

  2. Camilla Says:

    I agree that Democrats need to present their own model for Colombia other than just shutting the country out and declaring it a pariah state, which is what they are doing.

    They also need to move relatively fast, because everyone can see that they are stalling Colombia’s pact to enable Obama or Hillary get into office on an anti-free-trade ticket without actually having to vote against such a pact. Why fast? Because Hugo Chavez is watching what is going on and the ‘in’ he has now is going to be absolutely irresistable between now and november. He will start a war or other trouble with Colombia now that he is convinced that America will not come to the aid of its ally in need. With toadies like Insulza in the OAS happily denying that Hugo would even think of arming the FARC, that’s a second green light to resume shipping weapons. Hugo knows that Nancy will hold the fort for him to get Obama elected and that’s all the window of time that he needs – as internal unrest builds at home.

    Democrats already have stated what their model for Colombia is – they think money-shoveling welfare aid programs, the kind that made our inner cities such paradises, are the answer. But studies show that aid programs are the least efficent means of creating prosperity. In fact, they are the least efficent way even to get people fed.

    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Democrats much prefer to dispense one fish at a time to ensure dependency. If you go to Delahunt’s or McGovern’s sites, it’s clear that they don’t have a very high opinion of Colombians’ human potential and instead have a colonial pith helmet vision of seeing them as pathetic children who will need to be fed one fish at a time, as long as they are ‘good’ of course, and solely dependent on McGovern’s and Delahunt’s discretion. Elect a socialist? Get more crony pork from Gentleman Bountiful McGovern. Elect a rightwinger? Bad Colombians, no aid for you! The other thing they like with this aid plan is that it tends to hire leftists as its administrators, increasing the number of leftists who are devoted to the McGovern and Delahunt political machines because they owe their livelihoods to it.

    Free trade is a far better solution because it helps more people. Two Colombian think tanks forecast the creation of 200,000 new jobs for Colombians in the first year, and the Colombian central bank forecasts the creation of about 87,000 new jobs for Colombians. How many aid programs can top that? Employing Colombians, rather than feeding them aid one day at a time, is really a far more dignified way of treating our neighbor – particularly since this is what they desire in huge numbers. The crony aid programs of Delahunt and McGovern are a miserable alternative and Colombians should reject such proposals, particularly if these proposal employ members of McGovern’s political machine and McGovern votes to deny Colombia free trade. People like McGovern are eventually going to need to stand up and be counted. Aid is a poor sloppy second to the opportunities ensconced in free trade. McGovern is offering Colombia a bowl of gruel. Free trade is offering Colombia a sumptuous feast of plenty. Which would you choose if you were Colombian?

  3. Camilla Says:

    I’m fully confident that Big Labor wll find new objections to the Colombia pact even as Colombia’s constitutional changes ensure that more killers of trade unionists (and everyone else) get convicted. Big Labor never cared about Colombia before the pact came up. What’s more, Venezuela has seen 52 dead unionists that Big Labor has yet to raise any objections to. Colombia will convict more, as its INDEPENDENT system (which cannot be tampered with by Uribe or anyone in the government) provide, because the structure is already there – and by the way, Uribe wants it that way, too. But by the time that happens, Big Labor will have thought up new objections.

    You can see it in the public statements of AFL-CIO’s Thea Lee, who, after President Uribe gave her the time of day, declared that the pacts would have to be renegotiated with the full approval of worker collectives approved by herself. What that means is Colombia’s economy will be determined not by democracy but by an effective AFL-CIO takeover of what should be a country run by Colombians which in itself will ensure that free trade will never have benefits.

    Instead of the socialist worker-collective idea, and the pith-helmet socialism, maybe Colombians should decide how they would like to run their country. Congressional Democrats will never tell Big Labor no, but if they want to do the decent thing and show respect for all nations, they will have to stand up to the likes of unaccountable imperialists like Thea Lee. Will they do it? I don’t think they have the cojones.

  4. Camilla Says:

    Here’s a little education about US media biases against Colombia from Harvard economist Edward Schumacher-Matos:

    http://www.miamiherald.com/540/story/492388.html

  5. Sergio Méndez Says:

    Camilla:

    A “Free trade agreement” that force colombia to open to American subsidiazed agricultural importantions and imposes the inciherent and unlibertarian concept intelectual property rights, is any things as a trad agreement, but certainly not “free”,

  6. maremoto Says:

    Dear Camilla,

    Whoever you are, please stay away from my country.

    I only read the first few lines and couldn’t continue due to the thickness of your “spin”. Bill O’Reilly came to mind. I am trying very hard not to insult you. Please forget you ever heard of Colombia.

    With friends like you we don’t need any enemies.

    and by the way, whatever Congress says about Colombia it will never matter; it will never be a pariah state. F*ck Congress. If any body’s country has committed many genocides it is my other country, the US, under the guise of the war on this or that.

    Cynical.

    I don’t have the energy to debate you point by point now (it’s 3am) but should you respond I will do so.

    Nick

  7. Golden Boy Says:

    Sergio,

    Regarding ag subsidies, the US taxpayers who are subsidizing the ag products are really just subsidizing the Colombian consumers. If anyone should complain about this, it is the US taxpayer. So, more jobs overall and cheaper food. Sounds like a pretty good deal for Colombia.

  8. Sergio Méndez Says:

    Golden:

    Sure that the US taxpayers should comply. But aren´t you forgeting that those subsidisies will also end up messing up colombian producers? More jobs? I doubt it.. at best, most of the unemployed labor force from the country will end having low paying jobs in maquilas, as it happened in Mexico…So at best is the same amount of jobs, of lesser quality

  9. Nobcentral Says:

    Oversensitivity and conspiracy aside (Camilla), one of the obvious problems is that under the American system of government, the President has foreign policy making power, not the Congress. And that makes sense given that the Congress speaks with 535 voices and that does not make for good foreign policy. Once a Democrat wins the White House, we will see a cogent Latin America and Colombia policy, but not before that time.

  10. Golden Boy Says:

    “But aren´t you forgeting that those subsidisies will also end up messing up colombian producers?”

    Which producers? Some farmers, yeah. But the Colombian consumer will be able to buy more at the subsidized price than they would have without the help of the US taxpayer ag subsidy. In other words, instead of just the loaf of bread, the Colombian consumer will be able to buy the bread and something else. That makes both the consumer and the added vendor richer.

    As for Mexico, are you under the impression the country was some kind of economic paradise until NAFTA ruined it? Overall, it’s been good for both countries, but there are always going to be some losers, just as the horseshoe maker lost out to the automobile manufacturer.

  11. Will Says:

    Golden Boy,

    There will definitely always be losers in any type of free market competition (of course, heavily subsidized agriculture from the U.S is not engaging in anything of the sort). However, when losses occur in regions/countries in which the consequences potentially are more than “well that farmer will just have to go back to school…OR well they better head to the cities to get a better job quick, hurry up an compete!”, but actually involve their entrance into an illegal drug economy and/or their violent displacement from their land and/or their involvement with various armed militias and/or eaking out an existence in Ciudad Bolivar then your flippant response about horseshoes becomes a little more complicated. NAFTA’s consequences for Mexico was a general jump in production/job creation (generally low quality jobs with extremely high turnover in the Maquiladora region) in Northern Mexico and the collapse of small peasant agriculture in the South, a contributing factor to the emergence of the Zapatistas as well as a continous flow of immigrant labor across the U.S.-Mexico border increasingly from the South of Mexico…ahhh the wonders of “free” trade.

    Best,

    Will

  12. Camilla Says:

    Nick/Maremoto: You stay out of my country and I’ll stay out of yours. Must be tough being you, having to live with 84% of your fellow countrymen approving President Uribe, and 75% of your fellow countrymen approving free trade. What do you do for friends? Oh, forgot, there is FARC – which shares your hatred of free trade. Still 9000 of those losers – though they won’t be around for long.

  13. Camilla Says:

    Sergio – re: subsidies. When I was in Colombia, people at a think tank called ANIF insisted that the agricultural aspects of the US and Colombian trade were complementary. Not only were different crops grown in the two different countries, but so were the timings of the crops. All the same, I detest US farm subsidies and want them gone. It’s mostly Democrats who are responsible for them. I don’t care what the party is, though – anyone involved it that has got to go.

  14. Camilla Says:

    Nobcentral: true enough. But will it be pro-free trade? I am not sure of that. How could Obama change his word on his hatred of free trade after making such a stink about NAFTA and darn near costing us our alliance with Canada? Unless he could change his mind, in the wildest volte face imaginable – I think he would introduce the first Smoot-Obama regime, which, though it may be coherent with Congress, certainly isn’t going to create prosperity or new opportunities in the US. If turning a recession into a depression would be enough political pressure for him, maybe he would turn around, but not until the damage is done. I am not even sure he would be capable of that, what do you think? Coherent isn’t always the best thing if the coherence is headed straight down the road to perdition.

  15. Camilla Says:

    Will: Free trade will create 200,000 new jobs in Colombia, along with higher wages, and with a higher tax base, government cash for infrastructure like road. That in turn will lower the cost of doing business for legitimate farmers as well as burn out secret doper passages with public roads. It’s going to damage the drug trade, not increase it. Dopers hate free trade and along with FARC will keep the killings of trade unionists as high as they can now that they know that killing unionists is all it takes to stop free trade from passing. They’ve got the game down cold.

  16. Golden Boy Says:

    Will,

    “..but actually involve their entrance into an illegal drug economy and/or their violent displacement from their land and/or their involvement with various armed militias and/or eaking out an existence in Ciudad Bolivar then your flippant response about horseshoes becomes a little more complicated.”

    Well then I guess Colombia should just forget about emerging from poverty because some farmers might join the drug trade in response.
    Other farmers might be able to buy products like fertilizer, seed, heavy machinery, etc. at a cheaper price due to the trade agreement.

    “..as well as a continous flow of immigrant labor across the U.S.-Mexico border increasingly from the South of Mexico…ahhh the wonders of “free” trade.”

    Are you going to tell me illegal immigration began when NAFTA was implemented?? I lived in Arizona at the time and I can assure you that is false. NAFTA didn’t end all Mexican poverty(and nobody ever said it would), true. Neither did it begin it.

  17. Camilla Says:

    Illegal immigration from Mexico began with the 1994 currency devaluation, something Bill Clinton thought was a good idea at the time.

  18. lfm Says:

    A few general comments about FTAs, not so much about the specific one under discussion which, as I’ve said before, I’m mildly against. That is, I believe some kind of FTA would be a good idea, but I have some concerns about this one. Of course, members of this forum seem to have a problem with nuances so, although you could spare all of us the whole thing of denouncing me as a FARC sympathizer, I know you won’t.

    Against popular belief, FTAs do little for the macroeconomy of a country. They work at the microeconomic level and there they have an overall positive impact in terms of efficiency and productivity although such impact comes at a short-term cost to some sectors. Sometimes such “short-term” can last for decades; Detroit still has to recover from the competition of foreign automobile industries, decades after it began in earnest. If resources moved around immediately and costlessly, there would be no issue. But they don’t. Markets adjust but sometimes slowly and even painfully. Also, if you believe, as I do, that in the long-run a country should build some kind of industrial base, an extreme FTA may kill the foundations for such industrial base without erecting anything in its stead. (MAY, I said…)

    For Third World countries this is tricky because it is very hard to know where the future lies for industrial development. Sometimes FTAs may actually help steer resources in the right direction. But it is anybody’s guess if that will happen. That’s why I like caution when it comes to these matters even though there are efficiency gains from free-trade.

    About the macroeconomic aspects, I know this is where the usual suspects will fulminate but that’s the way it is. First, FTAs are not magical recipes for overall growth. To understand this, you have to understand that efficiency is different from growth. You can grow a lot and still be very inefficient (like the Soviet Union before it slowed down abysmally in the mid-60s). You can be efficient and grow slowly, as well. The truth is that free trade will not lead to a lot of growth because, as I already showed several posts ago, the numbers just don’t add up. In no country of Colombia’s size is the export sector large enough as a share of GDP to generate the type of spectacular growth the FTA peddlers say. Let alone that Colombia is already pretty open to trade. I know somebody will bring up China but a. China is 1.3 billion people, b. China began from a very low point in terms of efficiency. Colombia isn’t like that.

    In terms of jobs, this is one point where proposers and opponents of FTAs both like to fudge things. FTAs don’t generate (or destroy, depending on your stance) lots and lots of jobs. To be more precise, they generate jobs in some sectors and destroy them in others but their aggregate impact is tricky and, ultimately, inconsequential.

    I know Camilla found a study of the Central Bank talking about 80 000 new jobs (but Camilla, predictably, prefers the figure of 200 000). It’s actually interesting that the Central Bank is doing this because they do know a thing or two about job creation. In fact, Central Banks can create and destroy many more jobs than any FTA with the stroke of a pen by increasing or decreasing interest rates.

    The point I’m trying to make is that the overall level of employment of an economy depends on deep issues about its labor market and its current location in a business cycle and none of these things depends on trade. The 80 000 jobs the FTA may create tomorrow could be gone next year if the Central Bank needs to increase interest rates trying to defend the peso from a trade deficit, as it did in 1998. This happened in the US. When NAFTA was signed, there was a lot of panic (or optimism) about its effect on jobs. Nothing happened. Or better, nothing that could be traced back to NAFTA because, at the end of the day, the Fed was a much more powerful force in determine the overall level of employment. Yes, the US went through an unprecedented boom but I don’t know of any economist, even those who favored NAFTA, that would credit it with said boom.

    By the way, the currency devaluation of 1994 was not all of it of Clinton’s making, if at all. I have it on good sources that Salinas was trying to keep the peso overvalued precisely to be able to sell NAFTA.

    Extreme protectionism is bad. Its effects on efficiency can hurt an economy big time if allowed for too long. But Colombia is not Argentina in the 50s. So, since the disease isn’t that bad, it’s not clear that the current doses of medicine is called for. Also, free trade supposedly generate enough resources to compensate losers. But we’ve never seen any credible plan to do that and this complicates matters. I wonder why the extreme free traders do so little to address this issue. It would help them sell their plan.

    Bottom line (if there’s any)? Colombia’s FTA may have some good things, but it’s also likely to have some bad things as well. If you care about managing the transition to a new economy with careful mobilization of resources, making sure that you don’t generate too many disruptions right now, then the FTA may be a cause of concern. After all, to repeat, it’s not like Colombia is Albania (although Camilla pretends it is) and that it is crushing under the weight of extreme protection. In a country in the middle of a war, you would imagine that disruptions are not exactly the flavor of the month. But, whaddaya’know? The government believes that it’s doing such a bang up job handling the current disruptions that it will take care of the next ones just fine…

  19. Paul Says:

    LFM,

    I don’t agree with your image of competent bureaucrats
    “..managing the transition to a new economy with careful mobilization of resources,” making sure to avoid “too many disruptions.” History shows they will manage the economy straight into the ditch. Dynamic economies are all about disruptions, or as Schumpeter
    put it, “creative destruction.” Low friction trade policy is one of many key elements needed to achieve such vibrance, but obviously not the savior of Colombia all by itself.

  20. Randy Paul Says:

    Illegal immigration from Mexico began with the 1994 currency devaluation

    If you want to say the current rise in illegal immigration began in 1994, that’s one thing, but really, illegal immigration from Mexico has been going on since the Treaty of San Jacinto.

  21. lfm Says:

    Paul: I understand. Bureaucracies can screw things royally but that’s not a universal truth. Some countries manage to create governments that are more competent than others. It happens and, no, it is not God-given. There are concrete steps one can take to that end and some countries have done it. In fact, every industrialized country accomplished that at some point.

    The Schumpeterian point is well taken and, again, that is the main reason I agree that good things may come out of free trade: by shifting resources from tried and inefficient sectors into new and efficient ones. But I would argue that, since we are already having a hard time figuring out what to do with several millions of displaced people, maybe we can wait a bit on the FTA side of things. There will always be another year to do it and, to reiterate, Colombia’s economy is not in such a desperate state that it cannot wait to get the negotiations right.

    While we’re at it, right now Colombia has a sizable trade deficit that, while it is a good thing right now, may become a cause of concern down the road. One likely short-run effect of the FTA would be to add more to the deficit. Is this really what we need right now, pronto, or else?

  22. maremoto Says:

    Dear Camilla,

    None of your conclusions are correct. I am an American citizen born here, of Nordic descent, and have lived here most of my adult life. My family’s wealth has come from trade. You are so off on your conclusions because YOU DO NOT KNOW COLOMBIA.

    As for 84% of Colombians approving of Uribe, you should read a book called the Social Origins of Dictatorship.

    I do approve of Uribe for saving what was left of Colombia (which you shall never know the beautiful and PEACEFUL land that was) after billions of dirty money from Congress’ war on drugs. But you, and people like you, wish to make Colombia into the twisted, cannibalistic society that MY country, the United States, has become through those FTAs you so push and other twisted policies emanating like noxious fumes from the so-called Washington establishment. My family always stayed out of politics even though we were, and are, some of the wealthiest people in Colombia, because we knew, intimately, the corrupt nature of these characters and how they siphon off a nation’s lifeblood, figuratively and literally. The FTA actually benefits us, but I know that any agreement negotiated by the likes of Bush is fraught with injustice at its core; it’s just his nature.

    And your threat of murdering FARC guerrillas shows your bloodthirsty ways. I wish you were the one on the receiving end and maybe then you would look upon opposing people’s viewpoint with wisdom. Hey, you never know. LOL. While I agree that they use unacceptable ways to rebel against an oppressive and murderous government, these people are the children of the popular leaders, such as Gaitan, who were gunned down by the murderous governments of Mariano Ospina Perez and again in 1984 with Belisario Betancur’s “peace process”. They had just cause. Or are you unfamiliar with Colombia’s history too ? In OUR Constitution, here in the US, the right to overthrow the government should it become oppressive is enshrined; why do you believe they deserve lees ?

    whatever

    You do not know Colombia and furthermore your views are directly tied to a pecuniary interest and therefore lack any moral authority.

  23. maremoto Says:

    by the way, Camilla,

    I have lived in north, central and south America as well as Europe (from where I inherited a title as part of the nobility of one of the most ancient houses in Europe and the world).

    The US can do a lot of things better. And, I’ll leave when I damn well please.

  24. Randy Paul Says:

    Sorry that was the Battle of San Jacinto. Make that the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo.

  25. Sergio Méndez Says:

    Golden Boy:

    The problem is not that there are losers in a “free trade agreement” (which is NOT a free at all). The problem is WHY those losers exist. If the free trade agreement was really free, without disloyal practizes that favored american agrculture over colombian one, I will not have a problem with it. But that is not the case. We already have a big problem with our country, which is very unproductive, thanks among other things, paramilitary death squads who have pushed away or murdered millions of colombian peasants of their lands to steal them for themselves (paramilitary leaders) or to sell it to colombian latifundists or palm agrobuisness.

    Now, Mexico doesn´t seem to be a paradise either with NAFTA. You are even constructing a wall in the border to keep off inmigrants. And what I said about the maquilas stands. Your “Free trade agreement” was a good strategy to force this peasants to be cheap labor for maquilas. I say, fucj that.

    Camilla:

    ANIF? LOLLL..Do you know what ANIF is? Asociación nacional de instituciones financieras (National asociation of financial institutions). It is basically an organization controled by finantial capital. If anybody gives a damn about the effects of the FTA in the country, is them. Camilla, and plaease spare me of your hypocresy. Farm subsidies were not touched by your beloved republican goverment, not even when you had mayorities in the congress. Your are naif or idiotic if you actually pretend I buy for a second you or your republican heroes give a damm about ending agricultural subsidies, because well, you don´t.

  26. Camilla Says:

    Maremoto: So shall I. Even steven. But you were the one who tried to chase me out. Guess what? You failed. Typical leftist, though – wants to harvest all he can from my country with a full leftist ruling class sense of entitlement, while not believing in the same equality for anyone who dissents with him. This is why leftists have such a reputation for coerciveness. And I’ll live and go where I please no matter what your hypocrisy dictates.

  27. Camilla Says:

    Randy Paul: Actually, it wasn’t illegal in the sense we know it now until the 1930s, when the border patrol was formed. People came and went when they wanted before that. The biggest wave of illegal immigration began in 1991 and accelerated sharply after 1994.

    Socialist ‘land reform’ in the south also was a big factor triggering the wave of illegal immigration that came after 1991.

  28. Camilla Says:

    Sergio Mendez: LOL! Yes, I know who ANIF is. I am amazed at your loathing of them. I had no idea. Anyway, I can tell you firsthand that they are good guys.

  29. Randy Paul Says:

    Camilla,

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but planeloads of deportees were routinely sent back to Mexico in the 1940’s and the sloppiness of the INS at the time often resulted in Hispanic US citizens being sent to Mexico. Airline Transport Carriers had a contract with the INS at the time for this purpose.

  30. Golden Boy Says:

    Sergio,

    In the 21st century, the vibrant economies are not the ag based ones. Take the cheap food from the US(which, as a taxpayer, pisses me off) and embrace the rest of the benefits of the agreement. Besides, figure the tarriffs on things like tractors(15%, I think) and fertilizers will be reduced or eliminated. That will offset some of the subsidized crops(not all US food is subsidized) that still have to be transported all the way from the Midwest to Colombia. I know you want the best for Colombia, as do I.

    “Now, Mexico doesn´t seem to be a paradise either with NAFTA. You are even constructing a wall in the border to keep off inmigrants.”

    And southern Mexico is basically an armed camp for keeping out central Americans: http://www.abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=4643702

    The wall isn’t for “immigrants,” it’s for “illegal” immigrants, a la Mexico’s own policy for the rest of Latin America.

  31. Sergio Méndez Says:

    Golden Boy:

    First, this is not about what “vibrant economies” (whatever that expresion is supposed to mean) are. This is about fairness and justice. There is no fainrness and justice in a trade of agricultural products when one of the parts enjoys a massive subsidies for its own products. But second, it is false that the largest economies of the world are not sustained on strong agricultural production: the US being the main producer of cereals in the world and countries like France (the second producer) are evidence of that.

    Concerning Mexico: I fail to see you point on saying mexicans do the same with the rest of center america. My point was that mexican economy does not seem to be good enought to stop massive waves of migration to the US. My comment was not concerned with how moral was US policy (or mexican one) of sealing its borders. If you want, anyways, we can discuss it appart (and yes, I do think it is inmoral)

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