Tuesday, July 1, 2008

John McCain and Colombia

By Joel Wendland

John McCain is campaigning in Colombia. He is there advocating free trade deals without preconditions – that is worker and environmental protections.

Free trade deals have cost US workers hundreds of thousands of jobs and a race to the bottom in wages, benefits, and workers rights. (See here for example.)

John McCain's enthusiasm for just such an arrangement with Colombia, the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, prompted AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to say:
The business leaders McCain will talk to on this visit have done very well under these deals, not surprisingly. However, working people in Canada, Mexico, and Colombia have borne the brunt of these failed corporate trade policies – just like workers here in the United States.

The issue goes beyond trade agreements. We need a global economic framework that works for ordinary people. Working people around the world are clamoring for real change, not agreements that benefit the corporate elite at the expense of working families.

Sweeney also discussed the Colombia government's poor human rights record when it comes to unions.

A recent statement by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs adds:
Colombia, touted by many, including the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, as a bastion of conservative democratic ideals in a region quickly succumbing to the democratic left, is currently experiencing a major crisis which exposes the flimsy nature of the country’s institutions. With fully one-fifth of the country’s legislators accused of connections to illegal armed groups and the legitimacy of Uribe’s current presidential term being called into question by a recent Supreme Court decision, McCain’s unquestioning support of the current administration is just one more example of his ill-advised and ill-informed makeshift regional policy. Moreover, the Arizona senator’s offerings on Latin America, merely a repetition of the Bush administration’s policies that vacillate between neglect of the region and unwarranted villainization of leftist governments, is scheduled to offer nothing new to the US regional foreign policy dialogue.

Nothing new. Just a third Bush term.

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