los angeles times

Hail Colombia

Obama has come around to seeing the progress Colombia has made in human rights areas and is rightfully backing a free-trade agreement.

President Obama, who withheld his support for a free-trade agreement with Colombia when he was a senator, recently sounded a more positive note on the issue. At a joint news conference this week with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Obama commended him for the progress his country has made in addressing human rights violations. In particular, he remarked on the more hospitable environment in Colombia today for labor organizers -- one of the sticking points for Obama and other Democrats in Congress.

"We've seen improvements when it comes to prosecution of those carrying out these blatant human rights offenses," Obama said. Furthermore, he added, he has instructed U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to work with his Colombian counterparts to bring the free-trade agreement to fruition. All of which suggested that Colombia has turned a corner since Obama's election, and that the United States may now be more favorably inclined to free trade with this Andean nation.

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