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Guest human_*

Considering that Columbia is one of the few allies we have left in the region, it would be beneficial for the United States to embrace Columbia as a trade partner.


Unless the Democrats favor Hugo Chavez who is actively seeking domination of the whole of Latin America "not to mention ties to Iran, seeking nuclear tech".








Rice promotes LatAm trade deals


The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has called on Congress to ratify free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Peru.

Not doing so would deliver a "great blow" to those countries, and to US interests in the region, Ms Rice said.


The White House has already agreed to the deals, which must be approved by Congress before becoming law.


But the Democratic-controlled Congress has expressed concern over labour conditions in the three countries.


President Bush's administration has portrayed free trade pacts as part of a wider plan to back democracies in Latin America.


But the fate of its trade plans became uncertain when Democrats, who for years had pressed for tougher trade and environmental protection conditions in US free trade agreements, took over both chambers of Congress in January.


Colombia concerns


A bi-partisan trade bargain in May paved the way for Congress to consider the agreements but obstacles remain, particularly for the deal with Colombia.


Congress has expressed concerns over allegations of ties between the Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe, and the country's disbanded right-wing paramilitary groups.


Speaking at the headquarters of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in Washington, Ms Rice said rejecting the deals would make the United States appear as a country that didn't keep its promises.


"Peru, Colombia and Panama are among our best partners in the region. Their governments have put themselves on the line and made strategic commitments to us through these trade agreements," Ms Rice said.


"All three of their national legislators have passed these agreements by wide margins and they now expect the United States to hold up its end of the bargain."

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