The case of the vueltiao sombrero: so much for so-called “free trade”!

(Translated by Buddy Bell, a CSN volunteer translator)

Source : Polo Democrático’s email

The missive that  Clara López Obregón sent to the respective high officials :

Bogotá, Jan. 14, 2013.


Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism


Director of the Department of National Planning


Minister of Culture

E. S. D.

Ref.:  The case of the vueltio sombrero: an assault against the national interest

Respected ministers:

With immense worry and indignation, we, the Colombians, have discovered the importation into the country of a million plastic hats that imitate and usurp the reputation of vueltiao sombreros, which are made in a traditional manner by artisans or by small cooperative enterprises comprised of our Caribbean-Colombian people, in particular, the indigenous communities of Tuchín and San Andrés de Sotavento, in the Departamento of Córdoba.

In effect, during the first 10 months of last year, under the sharp gaze of the authorities, more than 940,000 plastic imitations of vueltiao sombreros were imported for a total value of about $526,000. This is the equivalent of 55 cents per piece (less than 1000 Colombian pesos). This act has diminished a major symbol of Colombian culture and identity and it has affected the family economy for thousands of people that live off of producing this item. But more simply, government policy has shown to result in enormous damage to production, employment, wages and our own national values because it leaves national production prey to unequal competition, within an economic model that doesn’t allow sound industrialization policy, and which instead promotes the revaluation of the Colombian peso, lower salaries, and the dismantling of the role of the state in the promotion and development of the social safety net.

It angers us that while the knockoff sombreros have inundated the national market, it is just now on the eve of de Sincelejo Fair and the Barranquilla Carnival, that the government finally moves to take action. The case of the vueltiao sombreros is not an isolated one, but a logical consequence of the open-market policies that don’t consider the particularities or needs of the artisan producers and the domestic workforce. It is urgent that the policies are revised before an irreversible and total deindustrialization of the country. This offense to our patriotic valor, to the national work ethic, to our people cannot be treated like a minor issue, lightly, with blind men’s canes. On the contrary, it requires a clear definition and accounting for what is the principal preoccupation of the national government: Colombia and its people or the miserly interests of narrow cliques of business executives whose only objective is raw economic gain.

Because of this model that makes waste here and everywhere, the industrial base decays, the soil becomes exhausted, unemployment resists abating, the informal sector proliferates, and economic growth stagnates. The error of this moment consists in not understanding that something is awry in the “neoliberal consensus” of Washington, applied regardless of the effect on regular people. Meanwhile, the countries that enact their own formulas are today registering much accelerated rates of economic growth, a reduction of poverty, and a diminished level of inequality. The only thing worse than committing errors of policy is to continue moving forward with the errors. We have to change things, and quick, before it’s too late and the economy and Colombian people find themselves stuck in a cycle of sluggish development and wages, and the effects of a repressed economy and a devastated environment.

The tragedy of the vueltiao sombrero, symbol of our identity, is the same as that of the industry and of the agronomy where the process of collapse, for collectives and local producers of all sizes, advances unstoppably because they can’t compete in on an unequal footing. We need to give a hand to the collectives, to the small- and medium-scale producers, and to the farmworkers, victims of the disadvantageous competition. That recommends a great convergence of the wide economic and social sectors, regardless of political persuasion, in one big Front for Saving National Industry and Agronomy, capable of turning things around and demanding in reality our complete abandonment of current models.



President of the Polo Democrático Alternativo

cc. Governors and Mayors of the Caribbean Coast


Related Information :


(The translations may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.)



This entry was posted in News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.