Wednesday, April 23, 2008

So the Three Amigos Summit was really about...Colombia?

While Canadian media mostly concentrated today on Harper and Bush's comments on NAFTA - NAFTA good! - I was rather surprised by how strongly the proposed US and Canadian free trade deals with Colombia figured in the transcript of their "Joint Press Availability" statement.

Calderon brings it up in his opening statement.
The first question from a reporter is about the Dem candidates' remarks on reopening NAFTA, a question you will note does not refer in any way to Colombia, and Bush responds :
"Actually, my biggest concern on trade right now is with Colombia", and
"my biggest concern is to turn our back on our friends in Colombia".
He goes on to bitch some about his failure to get his FTA with Colombia past Pelosi, and concludes with :
"when America turns its back on a strong leader like President Uribe and a friend for democracy like President Uribe."
With friends for democracy like that...

Finally the three amigos get a question that actually is about Colombia and they really light up.
Bush :
"in terms of President Uribe, we got no better friend in South America than President Uribe. He believes strongly in rule of law. He's a reformer, and he's working hard to protect his country from a bunch of narco traffickers who murder innocent people to achieve their objectives."
and quite a bit more in the same vein, then :
"if we don't agree to a free trade agreement that we honest -- negotiated in good faith with them, it will undermine his efforts, and will destabilize parts of the world. And it would be a big mistake for the Congress to turn its back on Colombia."

And Harper! Harper uses up three of the transcript's paragraphs on it -
"We want to be in the game. We don't want to be out of it."
- and finally echos Bush with :
"if the United States and our allies turn their back on an important ally in this region, that that will have long-term security consequences for all of our countries in North America."

Good lord, its the FTAA all over again.
The Free Trade Area of the Americas was intended to expand NAFTA to include Central and South America plus the Carribean - all but Cuba.
Seven years ago on April 20, 2001, the tear gas was so strong at the anti-FTAA protests at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City that the FTAA delegates inside the conference could smell it.
The "FTAA Declaration of Quebec City" : "We, the democratically elected Heads of State and Government of the Americas, have met in Quebec City at our Third Summit, to renew our commitment to hemispheric integration" went down in flames only to rise again before limping to its grave.
But here it is - back from the dead and walking around : an SPP expanded to include Colombia, presumably as an inroad into the dangerously non-NeoCon south with its new lefty governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and now Paraguay.
The issues are the same. Even the protagonists are the same : Maud Barlow vs Tom d'Aquino and Derek Burney, who has just been fingered to lead a new Canadian SPP panel comprised of business, government agencies, and some of those deep integration fans residing at Carleton U.
Someone remember to bring the silver stake this time.

1 comment:

skdadl said...

Alison, see this WaPo story about Colombia today.

I don't know enough to know where the other power centre/s would be to drive this through. But things may be happening. Or not, of course.

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