An Apology From America
Dear Citizens of Colombia,
We the people of the United States are embarrassed, but most of all, we are deeply sorry.
On July 2, 2007, our Democrat-controlled House Ways & Means Committee released a letter stating that the majority Democrat trade policy would be to not ratify a free trade agreement with Colombia. It states that:
"With regard to the Colombia FTA, the House of Representatives recently passed the 2008 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which redirects U.S. foreign assistance in Colombia. All of us regard Colombia as a crucial ally in a region that deserves our active engagement, and the bill represents an effort to have U.S. funds help address the root of numerous problems there. There is widespread concern in Congress about the level of violence in Colombia, the impunity, the lack of investigations and prosecutions, and the role of the paramilitary. Issues of this nature cannot solely be resolved through language in a trade agreement.
“We believe there must first be concrete evidence of sustained results on the ground in Colombia, and Members of Congress will continue working with all interested parties to help achieve this end before consideration of any FTA. Consequently, we cannot support the Colombia FTA at this time."
We recognize that the great nation and republic of Colombia has suffered a traumatizing civil war for nearly five decades. Guerrilla rebels, narco-trafficking, and political corruption have contributed to the hundreds of thousands of deaths, kidnappings, and human rights abuses during this time. Violence has undoubtedly been a problem in Colombia’s history.
Yet, despite what U.S. Congressional leaders say, we know that this trend has been reversed dramatically in the last few years. There is great evidence of “sustained results.” Since 2005, tens of thousands of right-wing paramilitaries have disarms, while the Marxist revolutionary guerrillas have been forced deep into the jungles. Terrorist attacks including bombings are down 61 percent; murders of labor leaders is down 75 percent; of mayors 58 percent; and journalists by 73 percent. Expatriates are returning to their homeland to rebuild. And most importantly, you can walk down the street without the constant fear of a bomb exploding or being kidnapped.
You have fought courageously for the day when you and your families can live safe and fulfilling lives.
Colombia has been the Unites States’ greatest ally in Latin America, working closely on a number of mutual strategic interests for years despite the heavy rebuke it must often retain from other neighbors. When no other country would back us up, you would.
We know that you have been counting on us to support you as well. A free trade agreement would open up both of our markets for mutual benefit. Capital investment from the United States would lead to unprecedented growth, job creation, and government revenues for Colombia. Yet when the time came to support you, to display our unbreakable bond and friendship, our Congressional leaders embarrassed us by failing to do so. There are simply no words to express the remorse we feel for the erroneous decisions made.
This is especially saddening because the United States of America was founded on the principles of freedom, democracy, and equality. Our Democratic Congress did not treat your country on the basis of a fair, equal partnership, with the respect that you duly deserve. It treated you as a servant, like some banana republic rather than the great and proud nation that you are.
We are committed to you, our dear friends and allies. The American people are outraged that our leaders made such a terrible decision with such dubious reasoning. You deserved better — a lot better — and our leaders let you down. Nothing is more important to us than maintaining this close bond and regain the trust that we lost. We ask that you give us the another opportunity, so that we in the United States may work to ensure that Colombia gets the respectful treatment that it deserves for its years of unwavering friendship.
The Citizens of the United States of America