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Thursday, July 13, 2006

COLUMN: DOES IT PAY TO BE A U.S. ALLY? VOTE ON PERU WILL GIVE US A CLUE

Latin American politicians have long said -- only half-jokingly -- that if you want to get attention and help from Washington, it often pays more to be hostile to the United States than to be its friend. Over the next two weeks, the old saying will be put to a big test. Judging from what Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo told me in an interview, if President Bush fails to get congressional approval of a recently signed U.S.-Peru free-trade agreement before Congress goes on its summer recess July 28, it will be a case study proving that the United States does not reward its friends. Read the full column here.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Oppenheimer:
Your article on FTA and Peru is right on the spot on what regards to political attitudes towards the USA in Peru and Latin America in general, the economic turnaround obtained by free market policies by Mr. Alejandro Toledo, as well as the immediate threat to this continued growth by the lack of ratification by the US Congress.
However, you are off the mark on your last remarks regarding "empty rethorics". If the FTA is not passed, it is not only President Bush's rethoric the one that will be empty, it is the American commitment to democracy and support of our allies the one that will be exposed as hollow. If we cannot encourage democracy and free marked economies in Latin America as a bipartisan, national effort, we might as well close the door to our "back yard", and toss the key away: Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez are eagerly waiting for that.
Sincerely,
Jorge AntĂșnez de Mayolo

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Mousqueton said...

Wait a minute ! Hold back!

I do not think that it is fair to say that the US should approve the trade agreement with Peru because it is an ally.

It is true that the US has always been close to Peru and historically, though we have gone through some rough spots, our relationship has been excellent. Peru is not a country with expansion delusions and has always managed to take care of its domestic problems without affecting his neighbors. It is a trust worthy country that believes in fair play and further, it is the largest recipient of US aid in the world.

But, the real reason why we should approve the trading agreement with Peru is not because they are our ally but because the agreement is incredibly biased toward our interests.

As a matter of fact I think the agreement is so one-sided that in the long term it will not help our foreign policy in the region. Further, I think we will not be able to get away with some draconian provisions in the agreement for long and I trust that eventually both countries will re-negotiate some key parts of the agreement to make it more balanced and fair.

It is good start though!

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Mousqueton said...

By the way; where is mini-me?
Have you guys kicked mini-me out while I was away?

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Flavio said...

Mr. Oppenheimer:
I think it does pay... countries that did not want to negotiate an FTA are not getting any extension on the ATPDEA.

As much as I appreciate the efforts of President Toledo, he seems to be over-reacting in this one. Bush has been lobbying for the agreement, and remarks by Democrats are concentrated in labour laws. If the issues against the treaty were asparagus growers for example, I'll be much worried because congressmen will try to act in favour of their districts.

Toledo is asking Bush not only to do something which is not on his direct control (but in Congress) and to do so right here, right now. The majority of members of involved comittees in the Congress have said that even in the improbable situation that the treaty is not approved this year, they will grant an extension of the ATPDEA on the grounds that there is an FTA waiting to come in effect.

10:04 PM  

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