Colombia, Fighting Violence, Supporting Trade

By November 14, 2007Trade

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Colombia already is working as hard as it can to cut violence against trade unionists, a top Colombian official said on Tuesday in response to demands by U.S. Democrats that it do even more before Congress approves a trade pact.

“We’re (fighting violence) as hard as we can,” Colombian Trade Minister Luis Guillermo Plata told reporters.

“That what’s a country ought to be doing, any country in the world — fighting violence, fighting criminals and prosecuting those who commit crimes, against union leaders, against anybody in society.”

Plata’s remarks came in response to the release of a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “Back from the Brink: Evaluating Progress in Colombia, 1999-2007.” From the Executive Summary:

The influence of illegal armed groups has been rolled back, the presence of the state broadly expanded, levels of violence and criminality sharply reduced, the observance of human rights improved, standards of governance enhanced, and the economy set in a very positive direction. Notwithstanding this success, difficult problems related to a longstanding tradition of weak government remain. But the magnitude of these still-unresolved challenges does not detract from the significance of Colombia’s gains since 1999.

Defeating the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement would push Colombia’s democracy back to the brink. To the U.S. trade opponents and organized labor, we ask: How does undermining an ally help your cause…or the Colombian people?

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