President-elect Barack Obama made it pretty clear during his campaign that he did not support free trade, but The Washington Post endorsed him anyway. Still, The Post does hold out hope that Obama will change his mind and support the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. WaPo editorializes today:
Democrats in Congress, regrettably echoed by Mr. Obama on the campaign trail, frame their objections not in economic but political terms, arguing that Colombia has a dismal record on human rights. This characterization defies all reality. Since President Alvaro Uribe’s first election in 2002, murder has declined by 40 percent; kidnappings have fallen by 75 percent. Supported by the United States and by a huge majority of the Colombian people, Mr. Uribe’s firm but professional military approach has decimated the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known as FARC), which once threatened to render the country ungovernable. Mr. Uribe has also brought right-wing paramilitary groups to heel. When evidence emerged recently that some of his troops had killed innocent people to inflate enemy body counts, Mr. Uribe fired 27 army officers and soldiers, including three generals.
The Post also does a fine job making the economic case for the deal:
And then there’s self-interest: The main economic effect of the trade agreement would be to enable U.S. producers — automakers included — to export to Colombia tariff-free. This would simply level the playing field, because 90 percent of Colombian goods already arrive in the United States tariff-free under temporary trade preferences that Congress recently renewed. With U.S. goods exports to Colombia totaling over $8 billion per year, the pact offers a nifty dose of stimulus for U.S. businesses and workers. While America stalls, Europe moves: The European Commission announced yesterday that it wants to start free-trade talks with Bogota. Why would Democrats need any deals or inducements to pass a measure that would promote U.S. foreign policy interests and create American jobs?