The U.S. congress is expected to approve the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Colombia this Wednesday. The alarms are already sounding among many sectors in Colombia, especially the producers of rice, corn, wheat, and dairy products. Colombia’s Minister of Agriculture, Juan Camilo Restrepo said that about 350,000 small farmers are expected to be among the first to be hit by the loss of protection to the import of cheap U.S. agricultural products. "We are not prepared for the FTA," said Restrepo.
This will likely be only the first group among the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives will be ruined by the U.S.-Colombia FTA. The agreement will only exacerbate the core endemic problem of Colombia’s conflict in the rural sector, where more than 30% of its population resides.
If anything, the FTA will force Colombia to specialize in a few cash crops—such as coffee, flowers, bananas, and African palm oil— which will not generate enough employment nor will redress the country's increasing dependence on food imports to satisfy its growing needs.
Consequently, the FTA will become another obstacle thrown in the path of resolving the country’s armed conflict, and it will be detrimental to Colombia's long term development goals.
Contact your congressional representatives to ask them to vote against the U.S.-Colombia FTA. For recent NACLA articles on the U.S.-Colombia FTA, see "Buenaventura, Colombia: Where Free Trade Meets Mass Graves" or "The Colombia FTA: Only Corporations Win." For more from Nazih Richani's blog, Colombian Cuadernos, visit nacla.org/blog/cuadernos-colombianos, or see the NACLA Report July/August 2009, "Coercion Incorporated: Paramilitary Colombia."