NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 22, 2008

According to Barack Obama, the United States should oppose the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, stating that "…in Colombia…labor leaders have been targeted for assassination…and there have not been prosecutions."  However, labor killings have actually gone down sharply in the past five years, and convictions have gone up, says the Wall Street Journal.

Moreover, Obama, or any American politician for that matter, ought to know better than to deliver a morality lecture to Colombia, because American demand for cocaine, which funds Colombia's worst criminality -- including the bloodthirsty Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) -- has nearly wrecked the country. 

In fact, by the time President Alvaro Uribe took office in August 2002, Colombia was almost a failed state, says the Journal:

  • That year alone there were 28,837 homicides nationwide, making it one of the most dangerous places in the world.
  • In 2000, 155 unionists were murdered and in 2001, 205 died. The numbers only started to come down when President Uribe took office.
  • The dominant public-sector unions have their roots in a revolutionary ideology that they share with the FARC; this has put them on the left side of Colombia's violent politics for decades.
  • On the other side have been those who took up arms to oppose guerrilla aggression.

Yet, overall, when President Uribe took office, the crime rate began falling:

  • From 2002 to 2007, the number of murdered Colombian union members dropped by almost 87 percent.
  • Since February 2007, 855 cases have open investigations and 179 security preventive detention measures have been issued.
  • An estimated 61 cases are ready to be referred to court for trial and 115 suspects have been convicted in 75 sentences.

Furthermore, Uribe has worked to restore peace by strengthening the state, and it is actually safer to be a union member today in Colombia than to be a member of the general population, says the Journal.

Source: Editorial, "Obama Is Wrong About Colombia," Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2008.

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