Nicholas Kristof in Colombia

Nicholas Kristof recently wrote an editorial about Colombia, free trade, and human rights entitled Better Roses Than Cocaine. He argued there that “Some Democrats claim that they are against the pact because Colombia has abused human rights. Those concerns are legitimate — but they shouldn’t be used to punish people like Norma Reynosa, a 35-year-old woman who just may snip the flowers that go into the Mother’s Day bouquet that you buy.”

He notes, “Colombia’s progress has been immense. Assassinations of union members, while still a problem, have fallen 80 percent since 2002. Last year, the murder rate for union members was 4 per 100,000, reaching levels far below the homicide rate for the general public.”

He finishes by writing, “To their credit, a large group of prominent Democrats from previous administrations have strongly endorsed the trade accord, declaring that it is ‘in both our vital national security and economic interests.’ But the presidential candidates aren’t listening. Democrats instinctively criticize Mr. Bush when he harms America’s standing in the world. That’s easy. But a test of intellectual honesty is your willingness to hold your own side to the same standard and to point out pandering in those politicians you normally admire.”

I have written previously on the controversy over free trade and Colombia. And Kristof’s readers responded in volume to his editorial, so check them out as well—lots of good critique. Finally, there was a video that went along with his stay in Colombia, so from the Bogota savannah landscape to the voices, as well as the coverage of these same issues, I recommend a look:

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