Wednesday night I wrote an article for Pajamas Media explaining the consequences if Nancy Pelosi delayed a vote on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
Yesterday Pelosi, who I now consider an enemy of America, changed the voting timeline rule on trade pacts from 90 days to whenever.
This is the first time in history that Congress failed to approve a major trade pact.
Monica Showalter of Investor’s Business Daily yesterday afternoon describes why this is an evil move (yes, I am choosing my words carefully – it is an evil thing Pelosi has done). I post the editorial in its entirety (emphasis added):
Congress: The cowardly start more wars than the courageous. Nancy Pelosi’s craven altering of House rules to kill off Colombia’s trade pact brings that danger to the Andes. If war breaks out, her name will be on it.
April 10 may end up as a date which will live in infamy. The Speaker of the House not only refused to step forward and be counted on approving the vital Colombia free-trade agreement, she ran away from letting anyone else vote on it.
After President Bush submitted the pact to a vote under fast-track rules, she changed them to ensure it wouldn’t go anywhere anytime soon. By a 224-195 House vote, the voting timeline rule on trade pacts was changed from 90 days to whenever. Pelosi now can hold up Colombia’s treaty however long her caprice dictates.
“The message Democrats sent today,” a bitter Bush warned after Thursday’s vote, “is that no matter how steadfastly you stand with us, we will turn our backs on you when it is politically convenient.”
Pelosi’s move leaves Colombia, an ally, in limbo and uncertainty. She may think her clever maneuver was done in a vacuum, but it wasn’t. In Venezuela’s capital of Caracas, where Hugo Chavez holds forth, and in the jungles of Colombia, where drug terrorists hide out, Pelosi’s move was watched closely.
Indeed, within hours of the vote, Latin American media already were calling Pelosi’s maneuver the “Chavez Rule.”
The Venezuelan dictator is no doubt fascinated at how Pelosi could do this to America’s best ally in Latin America, punishing a vibrant democracy by isolating it from all the other nations that have sought and won free trade.
Unlike, say, military aid, this deal costs the U.S. nothing, is too small to have much impact on the U.S. economy and is mainly about ending tariffs on U.S. goods sold in Colombia, matching the no-tariff trade that Colombian firms already get here.
Free trade was what Chavez’s enemy, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, considered his best weapon. And Pelosi knocked it right out of his hand, just to placate her party’s union supporters.
Only a month ago, Chavez sent 10 tank divisions to the Colombian border after Colombia’s army blew away a FARC terrorist kingpin. He warned he would bring war inside Colombia.
Encircled by tanks not only in the East by Venezuela but also in the South by Chavez’s cat’s paw, Ecuador, Colombia asked the U.S. for just one thing: to pass the free-trade agreement. No tanks. No jets. Just free trade.
Now without it, Chavez might be emboldened to strike. After all, he’ll hear from congressional sources that Pelosi probably won’t bring up a vote on the trade pact for at least several months. He’ll use that time to pick fights with its now-forsaken neighbor. The fact that Colombia can’t get even a trade pact tells him all he needs to know about American commitment.
So even though the pact was not rejected outright, its absence will be inherently destabilizing. There’s nothing Chavez or his FARC allies dread more than Colombia armed with trade rights that will boost its economy beyond the allure of Chavista populist promises.
At Argentina’s 2005 Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Chavez made his enmity toward free trade known by hurling insults at the president of Mexico and vowing to “bury” free trade.
Now, thanks to Pelosi’s bid to shunt Colombia off to trade limbo, the potential for war in a tinderbox Andean region — over any border incident or FARC terrorist attack — has been heightened.
The world and its dictators don’t sleep. The cowardly number that Pelosi did on Colombia likely will prevent the soft power of free trade from working, instead opening the gates to the hard power of war — and pulling in the U.S. whether Pelosi likes it or not. If so, we’ll have the her to thank.
Nancy Pelosi has covered herself in a cloak of shame and infamy. Unfortunately for us, everybody in the hemisphere will have to pay the consequences.
The message Pelosi has sent the world is that in America, the only superpower in the world, political squabbles take precedence over security interests.
I expect she’ll be paying Hugo a visit soon.
That political turf-staking, and the Democrats’ decreasingly credible claims of a death-squad campaign against Colombia’s trade unionists, constitutes all that’s left of the case against the agreement. Economically, it should be a no-brainer — especially at a time of rising U.S. joblessness. At the moment, Colombian exports to the United States already enjoy preferences. The trade agreement would make those permanent, but it would also give U.S. firms free access to Colombia for the first time, thus creating U.S. jobs. Politically, too, the agreement is in the American interest, as a reward to a friendly, democratic government that has made tremendous strides on human rights, despite harassment from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
Read the rest, at that arm of the vast right-wing conspiracy, the Washington Post.
At that other arm of the VRWC, the Boston Globe, Edward Schumacher-Matos adresses the “killing union organizers” meme:
While the murder of even one union organizer is deplorable, the numbers being used are so misleading that they should not be cited in opposing the agreement.
All sides agree that the killings are dramatically down, and no one accuses the government of orchestrating them. By the unions’ own count, the killings dropped from a high of 275 in 1996 to 39 last year. The government says 26.
The assumption by the Democrats is that all were killed for union organizing. It is an assumption implied in reports they cite from groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Those groups, however, rely on Colombian unions for their numbers, instead of collecting their own. The number of convictions now being won in the union’s own cases reveals that perhaps one-fifth, and almost certainly less than half, of the killings had to do with unionism.
Of convictions won in 87 cases since the first one in 2001, almost all for murder, the ruling judges found that union activity was the motive in only 17, according to the attorney general’s office. The judges found 15 of the cases had to do with common crime, 10 with passion, and 13 with being guerrilla members. No motive was established in 16 of the cases.
The unions don’t dispute the judicial findings, and deep in their reports say that they, in fact, have no idea of suspect or motive in 79 percent of their cases going back to 1986. The killings, in other words, are isolated and not part of a campaign against unionizing. The unions further benefit from the reduced paramilitary and guerrilla violence. The convictions have cut impunity. The government provides protection, from free mobile phones to bodyguards, for nearly 2,000 union leaders.
But hey, Nancy can’t be bothered with the truth.
Not satisfied with cement, Chavez has now set his sights on nationalizing steel, and his armed forces are now occupying 32 sugar plantations. Apparently, Chavez is so afraid of getting whacked with a sugar cane that he’s decided to make a preemptive strike. We have a golden opportunity to strengthen a relationship with an improving Democratic nation that unfortunately is next door to a president who is a socialist kook. Too bad our Democratic “leaders” would rather let that opportunity pass.
But fear not, the Dems are not too proud to scalp Colombia off some bucks, Is Hillary Running on Colombian Cash? Does the bear poop in the woods?
The WSJ reports Nancy’s doublespeak:
Mrs. Pelosi herself spoke with the Colombian ambassador to the U.S. to offer assurances that the House action wasn’t meant as a show of disrespect and could ultimately lead to passage, according to an aide to the congresswoman. Mrs. Pelosi said the deal could still come before the House this year, if Colombia takes steps to stem violence against labor organizers and if the White House moves to accept Democratic demands for action on competing priorities, such as expanded food assistance to the poor.
Ridiculous little woman. The Colombians aren’t buying her line: Colombia is struggling for its life while Nancy gets off playing House: Colombia’s Plata Says Rejecting Trade Accord Same as Sanctions
“Not having a trade agreement is almost like having trade sanctions imposed in the sense that you’ve been downgraded, or are at least now one level below the other comparable economies in the continent” that do have trade deals, such as Mexico, Chile, Peru and Central America, Trade Minister Luis Guillermo Plata said in an interview.
The delay “is a calamity for the world trading system,” said Fred Bergsten, the director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “This undermines the whole basis of international confidence in the U.S. as a trading partner.”
National Review has more.