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BOSTON GLOBE: Past is perfect - for U.S. corporations

July 16th, 2008

Marc Grossman ("Opening up trade with Colombia," Op-ed, July 10) says that this is "the perfect time" to pass the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, because the struggle for democracy in Colombia "requires creating jobs, enhancing human rights, and protecting labor leaders." Sure it does, but will the FTA accomplish this?

A vast array of Colombian social organizations, including human rights and environmental groups, labor unions, and indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and peasant organizations, believe it will do exactly the opposite. They are vocally and actively opposing the FTA because, as Grossman suggests, it will benefit "American businesses, farmers, ranchers" - at the expense of Colombians.

The FTA would dump cheap, subsidized US grains on Colombia, displacing small Colombian farmers. It would grant further rights and privileges to US corporations investing in Colombia, preventing local and national institutions from protecting their own resources, environment, and people.

Grossman is a vice chairman of the Cohen Group, whose mission, according to its website, is "to provide enterprises large and small the help they need to compete and succeed in the global marketplace."

That's what the Colombia FTA is designed to accomplish: to help US businesses. It's fine if that's what Grossman wants to do - that's his job. But he shouldn't try to fool us into thinking that what is good for US corporations is going to be good for Colombia.

Avi Chomsky