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DESERET NEWS: Trade deal harmful

May 31st, 2011

Free-trade agreements are much more complex than Thursday's Deseret News editorial suggested. Touting only the benefits of the three pending free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama neglects the high costs of these agreements for the working class and the environment here in the United States as well as abroad.

Consider Colombia: a nation embroiled in a decades-long civil war. In 2010 alone, 51 unionized Colombian workers were murdered. The impunity rate for these murders is an astounding 96 percent. Passing a trade deal with Colombia would be tacit approval of these human rights violations.

The agreement will also prove disastrous for Colombia's small farmers. If passed, subsidized U.S. grain will flood the Colombian market and leave at least 400,000 farmers without their previous source of income. Many will be left with two equally unappealing options: Become another of Colombia's 5 million-plus internally displaced people or begin producing the raw material for cocaine.

Free trade is not free. In Colombia, it will come at a price of increased cocaine production and labor rights. Policymakers in Washington must recognize that now is not the time to pass the trade deal with Colombia.

Kelly M. Miller
Witness for Peace
Washington, D.C.

To read this letter to the editor in the Deseret News, click here.