For friends and colleagues who follow politics in Colombia and the Andean region, more bad news for the Colombian government, a country that used to be a reliable ally of the United States but increasingly keeps doing things with many bad actors in Latin America and the Caribbean.
A genuine ally works to resolve problems of concern to the other. President Juan Manuel Santos has been doing the opposite for some time. Well, it seems that the political chickens may be coming home to roost because several Members of Congress are urging the Trump administration to crack down on unfair trade practices by the Colombians.
In a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert E. Lighthizer five Members of Congress from the North Carolina delegation said:
“We understand that the Colombian government is now proposing to modify its reference price system in a more draconian fashion that will effectively block the entry of products such as t-shirts and socks made from U.S.-grown cotton and U.S. spun yarns. Although the new Decree is largely the same as the November 2016 Decree, it differs in that it substantially raises the arbitrarily determined reference price values based on the weight of the product.
“We appreciate USTR’s attention to this issue in the past and respectfully request that your office renew its engagement with the Colombian government and urge it to eliminate unfair trade measures that disadvantage U.S. companies. Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to working with you on this very important matter.”
The thing is, it is not just unfair trade practices. Not only has President Santos made a terrible deal with an entity that the United States still, correctly, lists as a terrorist organization, but it has maintained cozy relations with Cuba.
Santos and his supporters of the Latin American Left are also doing a lousy job helping the people of Venezuela free themselves of the Maduro-El Aissami regime. There are even questions surfacing in U.S. government circles about Colombia’s commitment to combat illegal drugs. Among other things, the Colombian are allowing the FARC terrorist group to continue dealing in drugs.
For far too long Republican and Democratic administrations have allowed Colombia and other Western Hemisphere nations manipulate D.C. political processes. They say one thing here; then back in the region, they act another way. Access to the US market is a privilege, not a right.
On many issues, Colombia must change its tune.
You can read the Congressional letter to the USTR here.