Colombian free trade pact -- dead?
The deal may be on life support but Colombian President Alvaro Uribe refuses to declare a bilateral U.S. free-trade agreement dead.
During a state visit to Mexico, Uribe enlisted the support of President Felipe Calderon to lobby on Colombia's behalf. President Bush has not given up hope, either. But President-elect Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, says a trade bill won't be on the Democrats' agenda during the lame-duck congressional session kicking off Monday.
Democrats' labor and human rights constituencies are against the pact without major revisions or improvement in Colombia's human rights record. Still, a Democratic U.S. congressman told The Times that there was a sliver of a chance for the controversial bill. Bush apparently told Obama during his visit to the White House on Monday that he might agree to terms of Democrats' financial stimulus package if Democrats passed the trade bill. The congressman said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had not ruled out such a deal.
-- Chris Kraul in Bogota
Photo: Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, left, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Credit: EFE