A front page Washington Post story today details how integral U.S. cooperation was to Colombia military efforts to free hostages held by the leftist terrorist group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). For more than 596 days the Colombian government has been waiting for the Congress to approve a Free Trade Agreement that will help both our economies. Heritage fellow James Roberts examines both presidential candidates position on trade with Colombia:

In order to maintain a strong alliance with our good friends and trading partners in Colombia, both candidates should insist on immediate approval by Congress of the U.S.-Colombia FTA and urge continued robust funding by Congress for Plan Colombia at least through fiscal year 2011. These measures will help to create private sector jobs in both the U.S. and Colombia. Expanded trade creates the best conditions for sustainable economic growth and development for Latin America. Likewise, Plan Colombia ensures the stability of a friendly democracy in the politically volatile Andean region.

Senator McCain is a strong backer of both the Colombia FTA and Plan Colombia. By contrast, although Senator Obama has been generally supportive of Plan Colombia, he has joined other congressional Democrats in opposing the FTA. His programs emphasize development initiatives for Latin American countries that rely upon big government and “make-work” solutions that must be funded by steadily increasing taxes. Apparently in response to pressure from protectionist U.S. labor unions, Obama also favors the insertion of vague and onerous new labor and environmental provisions in existing U.S. trade agreements with our hemispheric partners that will dampen U.S. trade and investment in Latin America.