Colombian President Alvaro Uribe still holds out hope that liberals in Congress will throw off their protectionist blinders and embrace the Colombian Free Trade Agreement. Thus his diplomatic response to questions from the Washington Post this weekend:
Q. The U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement was not brought to the floor of the House at the direction of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, essentially killing its chances for success until after the upcoming election. What is your reaction?
A. There is concern in our government, but we cannot lose our optimism. [We have a] long tradition of good relations between our two countries, and we cherish common democratic values. . . . We recognize our problems, but we are working every day, doing our best to overcome them. These circumstances make us optimistic.
Q. Haven’t you stuck your neck out to be a good U.S. ally in the war on terror ism and the war on drugs? Are you thinking about alternatives to your strategic alliance with the United States if this treaty does not go through?
A. We have considered that. As for the House’s approval of the Free Trade Agreement, the sooner the better. The more they analyze the current situation in Colombia — the efforts Colombia is making, the progress Colombia has made, the problems Colombia faces — the more they have to rethink and consider the possibility to approve the Free Trade Agreement.
Q. What would you say to members of the House?
A. I invite them to visit Colombia — especially Speaker Pelosi. If she comes, she will find problems and progress, but she will see our total determination to overcome these problems.
Earlier in the weekend, the Post was not so gentle with the Democrats in Congress:
There are two important countries at the north of South America. One, Colombia, has a democratic government that, with strong support from the Clinton and Bush administrations, has bravely sought to defeat brutal militias of the left and right and to safeguard human rights. The other, Venezuela, has a repressive government that has undermined media freedoms, forcibly nationalized industries, rallied opposition to the United States and, recent evidence suggests, supported terrorist groups inside Colombia. That U.S. unions, human rights groups and now Democrats would focus their criticism and advocacy on the former, to the benefit of the latter, shows how far they have departed from their own declared principles.