Tina K. Russell

April 26, 2008

Help the world heal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tina Russell @ 2:26 pm

Nicholas Kristof tells the story of Norma Raynosa, a woman who lived in southern Columbia as several relatives were killed or enslaved by ethnic warfare, of the new life she built elsewhere in the country, and why she needs our help.

Better Roses Than Cocaine – New York Times

So in June 2005, Ms. Reynosa and her husband abandoned their home and fled to the outskirts of the capital to see if they could get jobs in the booming flower industry. Colombian cities like Medellín were the most dangerous cities in the world in the 1980s and ’90s, but now they are thriving and homicide rates are well below those of some American cities.

One reason is those bouquets you buy, entering duty-free from Colombia. These days Colombia is the world’s second-largest exporter of flowers after the Netherlands, and almost 200,000 people work in the flower industry. Up to 28 cargo planes a day carry flowers from Colombia to the U.S.

Better carnations than cocaine, no?

Critics of the free-trade pact worry that it would hurt American workers. But Colombian goods already enter the U.S. duty-free; what would change is that American exporters would get access to the Colombian market.

(Colombia is pushing hard for the pact not because of any immediate trade benefit but because its duty-free access to the U.S. must be regularly renewed. Businesses are reluctant to invest in flower farms or garment factories unless they know that they will be able to export to the U.S. for many years to come.)

I hate to say it, but I accept the Republican framing on this one. We cannot turn our back on an ally. We cannot turn our back on the world.

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