Friday, October 26, 2007

Have A Banana, Carlos

Yesterday’s New York Times reported something that I thought was a bit amazing involving Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez (I’ll get to it below).

The focal point of the story was Bushco’s typically wrongheaded demonization of Hugo Chavez in pursuit of a trade agreement with Colombia; though it’s an understatement to say that Chavez has issues, he has managed to achieve a level of popularity with those totally ignored by our executive regime, and Chavez has actually tried to establish warm relations with the same nation we are courting also.

As reported by the Times here...

Many Democrats have opposed trade deals, even those pushed by President Bill Clinton. The administration hopes to win over enough Democrats to pass the Latin American pacts this year or next. There is, however, considerable disagreement whether the argument of countering Mr. Chávez as a security matter will persuade Democrats.

Democrats say that the House speaker, Representative Nancy Pelosi, has warned the administration not to invoke the specter of Mr. Chávez but to focus on curbing the labor abuses under (Colombian President Alvaro) Uribe.

“The problem is that Hugo Chávez is not their main thrust — he is their only thrust,” Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said. “Nobody likes Chávez, but I don’t think a bogeyman is going to get people excited into voting for these trade deals.”

And as if we needed proof that Chavez is exactly what Rangel says he is to Bushco, we have this from Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez (showing his astonishing ignorance)…

When Mr. Gutierrez said recently that labor violence was no longer a problem in the country, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a Democrat who won last year in part by challenging recent trade agreements, said he was “astounded” by the comment.

“On the contrary,” Mr. Brown said in a letter to the commerce secretary, “there is overwhelming evidence that Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a labor leader.”
Kudos to Brown for slapping down Gutierrez on that one right away.

For the benefit of our commerce secretary, here is a prior post on the travails of Chiquita Brands as they have dealt with the labor violence in Colombia that is supposedly “no longer a problem.”

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