As a result, the majorities the accord would surely command on both sides of Capitol Hill have been unable to express their support. The predictable — and intended — effect has been to humiliate President Uribe at home and penalize him for the steadfastness he has shown in collaborating with the United States to fight the drug war, to counter terrorism and to defend freedom in the region.
Never mind that the economic benefits of the Colombian Free Trade Agreement redound disproportionately to the U.S. After all, under other accords, Colombia’s exports to this country enjoy duty-free status while American exports to Colombia are subject to significant tariffs that would be eliminated once the FTA enters into force. The freedoms enjoyed by independent trade unions and respect for civil liberties under President Uribe compare favorably to nearly all of Latin America — especially the growing number of nations in the region now under the tyrannical control of Hugo Chavez or his surrogates.
The most important case for Nancy Pelosi freeing the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, however, should be made on national security grounds. The United States is extremely fortunate to have in Colombia today a democratic and increasingly prosperous, competently managed and secure ally led by a staunchly pro-American president whose popularity even before yesterday’s success would be the envy of any politician.
Whether the Speaker and her partisans like it or not, passage of the Colombian FTA is absolutely vital to this nation’s security, as well as economic, interests throughout the hemisphere. We must do whatever we can to shore up the important bulwark Colombia represents against the rising tide of the region’s anti-American movements — to say nothing of the increasing presence and influence there of Communist China and Iranian and other Islamofascist operatives.
Upon its return from the Fourth of July recess, Congress should make a first order of business an expression of its admiration and appreciation to President Uribe by ending Speaker Pelosi’s hostage-taking and approving the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia. If not for him, do it for us.
— Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington.