July 17, 2007


The Case for the Colombia FTA (Jose Maria Aznar , 7/17/07, HACER)

Mr. Uribe has been elected twice -- once in 2002 and again in 2006 -- precisely because he promised that, under the rule of law and democracy, he would employ all of the weapons available to the state to defeat terrorism. This is also the wish of those who took to the streets of Colombia just last week.

Mr. Uribe also has another anti-democratic challenge coming from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his hemispheric project to spread what he calls "21st century socialism." Mr. Chávez's ideology despises Western values and wherever it has taken root, freedom has begun to recede. It is a threat to the entire region and it is no coincidence that its proponents are allies of the FARC, which regards Colombian democracy as a foe that must be defeated.

Colombia needs its friends, not least because these enemies of freedom are powerful and well-equipped. Cocaine consumption in rich countries is the main source of financing for the FARC, a fact that makes support for Mr. Uribe's efforts both an ethical obligation for Western democracies and also in their own interests. Plan Colombia, an initiative to combat narcotrafficking begun during the administration of President Clinton with support from Europe, recognizes this obligation. President Bush continues to support the plan.

Colombia also has to strive to reduce peasant dependency on growing coca crops by fostering economic development. Integrating Colombia into the world economy will boost economic growth and serve to consolidate democratic capitalism. This is why it is unbearably cynical for U.S. politicians to cite the failings of the Colombian democracy as an excuse to kill the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

The U.S. would commit a grave strategic error, one that would have dire consequences, should it reject the FTA with Colombia. As a former head of government, I am perplexed as to how blocking the FTA from Washington could possibly make sense. Is it worth lashing out at the Colombian people, damaging U.S. security interests and handing a victory to the FARC simply to punish Mr. Bush? What about the consequences that are bound to accumulate when the U.S. abandons its best South American friend? Does the U.S. wish to push Colombia toward the path of 21st century socialism led by Mr. Chávez?

If Western values are to prevail in Latin America against terror and anti-democratic authoritarianism, Europe and the U.S. must adopt a clear strategy of supporting democratic capitalism.

The American Left basically wants to punish Colombia for Chile's success under Pinochet.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 17, 2007 7:51 PM

But doing drugs doesn't hurt anyone else! (say the libertarians and lefty hollywood types)

Posted by: Randall Voth at July 18, 2007 4:32 AM

The Left's love affair with the Palestinians is no coincidence.

Both groups will joyously hack the feet off their own children with a machete if they think it might in some way harm their enemy.

Posted by: Andrew X at July 18, 2007 9:46 AM

For Chris Dodd and John Kerry, Colombia is already evil, because Uribe is a right-wing tyrant.

Most Democrats don't care, and their indifference is basically racist, no?

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 19, 2007 7:33 AM