By Anonymous (not verified) on July 21, 2011

In the coming days, the U.S. Congress will be debating a free-trade deal between the United States and Colombia. The agreement, if finalized, will have a negative impact on both countries.

It will not lead to job creation in the United States. Instead, it will cost U.S. jobs, as multinationals will relocate to Colombia in order to avoid paying higher wages here.

But Colombia will not benefit, either.

The elimination of trade barriers to entry of U.S. products will greatly harm Colombia’s working classes. It will decimate the market for a range of products created by peasants, indigenous communities and Afro-Colombians. This will result in an increased exodus from rural areas in a country that already leads the world in internally displaced people, with some 4.5 million displaced persons (nearly 10 percent of Colombia's 46 million population).

Several Colombian industries will be threatened by elimination of import duties. Products made by multinational businesses, which are the real potential beneficiaries of the free trade agreement, will hurt the domestic Colombian manufacturing sector.

And intellectual property provisions will threaten the access to medicinal herbs by members of Colombia's indigenous communities.

Then there’s the labor rights situation in Colombia, a highly dangerous country for trade unionists. Labor leaders in the country will continue to be murdered and threatened. The Obama administration has linked passage of the free trade agreement to greater protection of workers and has promised to attempt to curb employer-controlled “cooperatives” in Colombia, often used as a way to avoid unions. It is doubtful, though, that these proposed measures will show tangible results.

The U.S.-Colombia free trade deal is a bad idea for both nations.

John I. Laun is the president of the Colombia Support Network, and Cecilia Zarate-Laun is the co-founder and director of the organization. They can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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