The candidate of the ruling conservative party easily, Juan Manuel Santos, won election to the presidency of Colombia. The results suggest strong public approval for outgoing President Alvaro Uribe, who is constitutionally limited to serving two terms.
Uribe, with help from the United States over the last several years, has scored unprecedented victories against the Marxist narco-terrorists that have been fighting in a civil war since 1965. Because Santos is expected to continue Uribe’s policies, the presidential election represents an American victory in the War on Terrorism, as well as toward efforts to eradicate cocaine in order to limit the smuggling of it into the U.S.
Because Colombia’s security is improving, its economy has also been improving. Its establishment of the rule of law, liberalization of the economy, and conservative fiscal policies, for which Santos was partly responsible as a minister in Uribe’s government, have helped its economy to grow.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush negotiated a free trade agreement with Colombia, but the liberal Democratic Senate has not ratified it and President Barak Obama has failed even to call for the ratification of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, all of which were signed by Bush. The agreements would be mutually beneficial economically because they would increase trade by eliminating each party’s tariffs on imports, which would lower prices for consumers. However, labor unions that supported Obama’s presidential campaign fear the competition from lower-cost imports. They oppose the agreements, despite the increase in employment that is produced by an increase in exports. The excuse Big Labor has been using against the free trade agreement with Colombia in particular is its human rights record, which has improved under Uribe.
In addition to the economic benefits for the Americans, Colombia’s economy is in the interest of the U.S. because of the significance of Colombia to the War on Terrorism and the reduction of drug abuse. Colombia, the strongest ally of the U.S. in the region, needs the economic benefits of free trade in order to continue to defeat the Marxist rebels and deserves a reward for its successes in its fight against them and the reforms it has undertaken.