The "Interest" of Colombia in a Treaty that will be our Ruin

October 12, 2010
Mario Alejandro Valencia, member of the Centro de Estudios del Trabajo.
(Translated by Peter Lenny, a CSN Volunteer Translator, and edited by Teresa Welsh, a CSN Volunteer Editor)

In May 2010, with the electoral campaign in full swing, the then candidate Juan Manuel Santos, was asked about the FTA with the European Union. His answer was that these agreements “always leave winners and losers,” adding that he would sign it all the same.
True to his promise, on October 6 Colombia’s vice-president, Angelino Garzón, embarked on a fourteen-day tour of Europe to drum up approval for a Free Trade Agreement that will ruin Colombian dairies – and not just the small and middle-sized ones, but all the dairies. This FTA will end up bankrupting what remains of our food production. It will serve up the non-renewable natural wealth of our territory on a silver platter to Europe’s transnational corporations (e.g. BP, Hocol, Unión Fenosa, Endesa, Gas Natural, Anglogold Ashanti), as is evident from the mining, oil and environmental policy left by the previous government, which de Santos has promised to pursue and extend in the form of the “locomotives”.
So as not to leave any doubt, on October 8, Angelino Garzón spoke for an hour in Madrid at the Wall Street Journal’s New Economy Forum, sponsored by Endesa, to declare that “it is good business to invest in Colombia,” because it is “a tradition of the State to guarantee not only legal security, but administrative security, political security and security for domestic and foreign investment.” In her speech she lavished praise on the president of Endesa for the “labor he is performing in Colombia,” adding – to soothe the Spanish foreign investors present at the event – that “we are going to maintain all of President Alvaro Uribe’s policies that have been endorsed by the Colombian people,” including signing “free trade agreements with as many countries as possible”.
With the story of “winners and losers” in the FTA, vital sectors of Colombian industry have been forfeited in the illusory hope of gaining access in other goods that Colombia does not even produce. There has not been one single study by the Colombian government to show what these famous new products are that we are going to sell on the European market, nor what Colombian firms are going to invest on that continent. But then, as reciprocity is being proclaimed in these purported negotiations, it might be worth asking the government “What sectors of European industry are going to be ruined by a FTA signed with Colombia?” Has anyone heard any European officials saying “there will be winners and losers?” I haven’t, simply because the only losers are going to be on this side of the pond.
Vice-president Angelino Garzón went to Europe to express “Colombia’s interest in European Parliament approval for the trade agreement.” On the 518th anniversary of the Spanish conquistadores’ arrival in America, Garzón should be asked “How can it be in Colombians’ interest for them to re-colonize us?”
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