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Q: Mid-term elections ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Mid-term elections
Category: Reference, Education and News > Current Events
Asked by: luearaujo-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 03 Nov 2006 10:44 PST
Expires: 03 Dec 2006 10:44 PST
Question ID: 779808
What effects will the results of the mid-term elections in the United
States have in Latin America if the Democrats gain control of the
House of Representatives. Specifically I wish to know how it will
effect the recently negotiated Free Trade Agreements between Perú,
Colombia and the United States; and how it will effect Plan Colombia.
Subject: Re: Mid-term elections
Answered By: keystroke-ga on 03 Nov 2006 16:58 PST
Hello luearaujo,

Thank you for your question.

Many Democrats would oppose the free-trade agreements with these Latin
American countries, due to the countries' nonexistent or unenforced
labor laws.  Both of the free trade agreements will have a more
difficult time being passed with Democrats in charge.  Democrats are
also opposed to Plan Colombia, which they say has failed to meet its
goals and has actually made things worse for farmers in Colombia. 
However, Democrats are more open to immigration from citizens of these
countries than Republicans would be.

This quote sums it up nicely:

"In Old Textile District, the Free Trade Issue Dominates"
    By Steven R. Weisman
    The New York Times

'"If the Democrats do as well as it appears, you're going to see more
resistance to trade agreements," said Mickey Kantor, a top trade
negotiator under President Bill Clinton, who corralled a hundred or so
Democrats for the trade deals of the 1990's.'

'"At the very least, Democrats are going to demand new requirements on
enforcement of labor, environmental and corruption problems with our
trading partners," Mr. Kantor said. "I would welcome that."'

Here are some of the reasons why Democrats would oppose these agreements. 


Many Democrats oppose the free-trade agreement with Peru because Peru
does not meet the Democrats' workplace standards.  Peruvians are not
allowed to join unions and child labor is rampant, according to a
State Department report on the country which alarmed some Democrats.

"Democrats, Labor Sound Warnings On Peru Free-Trade Deal"

"2.3 million children between six and 17 years old were engaged in work in 2005..."

In 2005, President Alejandro Toledo of Peru said that he would agree
to a compliance pact forcing Peru to live up to International Labor
Organization (ILO) standards within the text of the free trade
agreement.  The draft of the free trade pact that the Bush
administration submitted earlier in 2006 did not include anything of
this nature.  Some Democrats took this to mean that, while the
government of Peru was willing to make concessions on Peru's current
workplace standards and include those in the agreement, the Bush
administration did not care about the issue of laboring children and
will not hold Peru to these commitments.

Alejandro Toledo was succeeded as president in July 2006, and it is
unknown how his successor views the possible restrictions on Peruvian

The Teamsters are very much against the Peru agreement, because there
are few unions in Peru.  The Teamsters are large donors to the
Democratic Party.  Even more than the Teamsters, the AFL-CIO deeply
opposes free trade and is an important base of support for Democrats.

The free trade agreement has already been approved in Peru and signed
by President Bush.  When it goes to a vote before Congress, it will be
done by the "fast track"-- simple yes or no, which includes no
opportunity to make amendments to the agreement before voting.
Democrats feel that by not including the ILO standards in the original
agreement, they will either have to go against their principles and
vote for the agreement as it is or vote against the agreement
completely.  Rep. Charles Langel of the Ways and Means Committee held
out hope that an agreement could be reached between the parties, but
other high-ranking Democrats, such as Sander Levin, D-MI, have said
that they cannot vote for the agreement without including provisions
against child labor laws within it.  He contends that the Bush
administration simply relies on Peru enforcing its own laws and those
of Central America, when they have not complied with those laws in the
past and there is no reason to expect them to in the future without
some sort of push.

The Hill News

"??Enforce your own laws? doesn?t fit the realities within Peru,?
Levin told The Hill after his speech at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace."

"Vietnam WTO Accession, Peru Trade Agreement, Advance in Senate"

"Finance Committee members voted 12-7 for the Peru FTA bill, with only
two Democrats voting for it and with one Republican voting against it.
 The House Ways and Means Committee voted 23-13 for the bill July 20,
with Democrats and Republicans similarly split.

Democrats in Congress complained that the Peru FTA labor provisions
are too weak.  In a 10-10 vote at an earlier Finance Committee
session, Senate Democrats failed to get approval for an amendment that
would have incorporated International Labor Organization (ILO)
standards into the agreement.

Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican chairman of the committee, argued
against the amendment.  He insisted it was unnecessary because the FTA
already obligates Peru to enforce its own labor laws, which he said
reflect ILO workers' rights standards."

This article suggests that the Peru FTA will not pass with Democrats in power:

"Bush policies"



The free-trade agreement with Colombia is an even bigger pill for
Democrats to swallow, so to speak.  Colombia has fewer labor laws and
worse workplace standards than Peru does.  At the same time, Colombia
has a much bigger economy than Peru and offers more opportunities for
the US if free trade existed, so there will be a much larger business
lobby concerning Colombia than Peru.

The Teamsters are also opposed to the free trade agreement with Colombia.

If the Peru agreement does not get signed, it is very safe to say that
the Colombian agreement will not be approved.

But whether there is wide enough opposition to defeat the agreement is
not entirely known.

International Herald Tribune

'"Assistance by the United States to Colombia began under President
(Bill) Clinton in 1999," said [US Undersecretary of State Nicholas]
Burns. "In my conversations on Capitol Hill (I found) there's strong
political support in both parties for a a healthy, thriving

On a side note, one of the FTA with Colombia's biggest backers, House
Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), is up for re-election this year.  If
Democrats take over the house, Hastert will no longer be Speaker (in
fact, he might not be Speaker even if Republicans keep the House, due
to his perceived involvement in the Mark Foley scandal).  Hastert is
one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the free trade agreement
with Colombia, and is also a large proponent of working against the
narcotics trade in Colombia.


Plan Colombia--

Plan Colombia is a program under which the US is spending billions of
dollars in an attempt to stop the illegal drug trade in Colombia. 
This is done by fumigating coca fields and buying equipment such as
helicopters for the Colombian government. Many Republicans say that
the plan is a success and hope to continue it under anti-terrorism
legislation.  Many Democrats, however, say that the plan has not
stopped the tide of illegal drugs and has instead been a large foreign
burden on the American taxpayer-- to the tune of $1.3 billion.  They
would not wish to continue the military aid.

" Failed 'Plan' in Colombia"

"This year, House Democrats have increasingly argued that there is no
quick fix for the complex challenges facing Colombia but that military
aid and aerial fumigation have made things worse. The facts are on
their side. Today, the guerrillas and paramilitaries continue to
participate in the drug trade and kill, kidnap and torture civilians,
particularly in the Putumayo and Arauca regions targeted by US policy.
Since last summer, an average of nineteen people have been killed
every day for political reasons, compared with an average of fifteen
each day during the year before Plan Colombia...

The Justice Department reported in January that cocaine continued to
be "widely available" in the United States. Efforts to combat drugs at
the source have only managed to shift coca to new regions and back to
old ones, as the law of supply and demand has kept total coca
cultivation in the Andean region at around 200,000 hectares (540,000
acres) for fifteen years.

These and other concerns have made Colombia policy one of the most
controversial aspects of the foreign aid bill in the House, where most
of the Democrats, led by Congressman Jim McGovern, voted against
military aid twice this year."


Some people say that if Democrats win a majority in either chamber,
Republicans may well try to pass either one of the free trade
agreements in their lame-duck session before the new Congress is sworn
in in January to prevent Democrats from voicing their concerns on the

Others posit that Democrats may let Bush's fast-track negotiating
authority expire in mid-2007, basically preventing any type of free
trade agreement to then be passed.

In any case, many Democratic Senators, such as Hillary Clinton and
John Kerry, have voted for these agreements in the past.  The
agreements may very well pass even with a Democratic majority, or they
may not pass with a Democratic minority  due to the election of some
more protectionist Republicans.

"Unless the U.S. Congress acts quickly after the midterm elections in
November, these countries will find themselves without a trade
agreement or the preferences come January.

Things could get more dramatic even if Democrats remain a minority in
Congress after Nov. 7. That's because Congress is expected to become
more protectionist than it was when the House passed the Dominican
Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement by only two votes in

"How Would Latin Americans Vote on Nov. 7?"

"The overwhelming perception among Latin Americans is that Democrats
are more protectionist than Republicans, so for countries such as
Colombia and Peru that are eagerly awaiting ratification of their free
trade agreements with the United States, the possibility of a
Democratic victory is worrisome. If the Democratic win is modest,
there is a small chance that the lame-duck Congress will be able to
ratify these agreements before January. If it is a resounding victory,
then it?s ?hasta la vista, baby.?

President Bush?s trade promotion authority will expire in 2007 and
will not be renewed if the Democrats take the House. Consequently,
countries aspiring to sign free trade agreements with Washington
(Ecuador, if Alvaro Noboa wins the second round of the presidential
elections, and Uruguay, if President Tabare Vasquez persuades his
left-wing partners) are quietly rooting for a Republican victory."

The article goes on to say that Democrats are more sympathetic to
Latin Americans who would like to immigrate to the US.

"Latin Americans think Democrats are more inclined to pass legislation
that will help legalize immigrants already in the U.S. and expand
existing quotas to fit market needs."

As far as Plan Colombia:

"Colombia, of course, favors Republicans. Democrats are voicing
increasing doubts about Plan Colombia, the multibillion-dollar
transfer of funds to combat narco-guerrillas instituted by President
Clinton and staunchly defended by the Bush administration. On the
other hand, countries such as Peru, where coca cultivation is on the
rise, fear Republican pressure much more than pressure from the
Democrats as regards coca production."



Washington Council on International Trade
"ISSUE BRIEF: Fast Track Negotiating Authority"

Wall Street Journal Opinions Journal
"Free Trade and Security"

Washington Times
"Peru's leader defends U.S. free-trade pact"

Search terms:
(On Google and Google News Search)
democrats free trade peru
president toledo
fast track negotiating authority
democrats free trade colombia

If you need any additional clarification, let me know and I'll be glad
to assist you.


Request for Answer Clarification by luearaujo-ga on 03 Nov 2006 21:43 PST
Keystroke, thanks... Just one aspect of the question that I think went unanswered:
1. What effects will the results of the mid-term elections in the United
States have in Latin America if the Democrats gain control of the
House of Representatives? (meaning political effects in other Latin
American countries like Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia).
And... could you find some information about the economic effects of
the mid-term elections in Latin America... Knowing that the Free Trade
Agreements might get into some trouble is part of the answer, the
other part is how will that effect the Latin American countries.
Thank you,

Clarification of Answer by keystroke-ga on 06 Nov 2006 08:35 PST
Hello luearaujo,

Thank you for asking for clarification of my answer and allowing me to provide it.

Here is some more information pertaining to what you originally asked.
 It is difficult to find specific information on Democrats' policies
concerning specific countries.

Right now, the US has trade agreements with Ecuador and Bolivia.
Democrats, being more protectionist, will not be as open to renewing
these agreements as Republicans will.  It is not at all clear whether
these two pacts will be able to be renewed.  The farm lobby is
powerful in American and will rally Congress-- no matter what the
percentage of either party it consists of-- to protect American
farmers at the expense of foreign farmers.  American politicians have
a difficult time refusing to protect American agriculture.  Uruguay
also hopes to sign a free trade agreement with America and is
therefore hoping that Republicans win as well.  However, even if
Republicans win, it will not be a clear victory for these agreements.

Democrats, while agreeing more politically with Hugo Chavez than
Republicans, are not at all more in agreement or approval of him or
his socialist presidency than Republicans are.  Many Democrats were
some of the most vociferous critics of Chavez's "Bush is a devil"
stunt at the United Nations and did not appreciate his tactics, even
if they are no fans of Bush themselves. Nevertheless, Venezuela and
its cronies in Mercosur would prefer the Democrats to win because they
don't want other countries to enjoy free trade with America.


"On the other hand, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela?the largest
members of Mercosur, the South American common market?will be thrilled
to see the Democrats take the Congress. They fear that a Republican
victory will lead President Bush to renew his efforts to negotiate a
hemisphere-wide free-trade zone. Trade among the Mercosur countries
amounts to $26 billion, a tiny figure compared to $1.5 trillion among
all the other nations in the Western Hemisphere. Brazil and Argentina
fear the prospect of Latin America going ahead with the trade zone
without them. If that happened, their role as the axis of South
American integration would be dwarfed. Brazil and Argentina definitely
favor the Democrats."

At the same time, Chavez needs an enemy like Bush in power in order to
retain his own power over the people of Venezuela with his
anti-American rhetoric.

As far as the economic effects, the free trade agreements would open
up trade between American and Ecuador/Peru/Colombia/whatever other
country to not have any duties, or fees, to trade.  The duties would
be 0% on goods traded between the two countries involved, hence the
term "free trade."  This would have an effect on both the United
States and these countries-- their goods could be traded back and
forth without adding on duties.  When America trades with a country
and that country adds on a 9% fee to the goods, America's goods become
more expensive to the country and that country might just buy goods
from a different country with a lower price of goods or with a lower
duty.  Free trade helps both countries, with imports and exports, and
generally helps everyone in both economies.  It can especially help
poor countries achieve a lower rate of poverty and a better way of
life.  The reason that some people are opposed to it is that certain
industries will stand to lose quite a bit of money from Americans
buying Latin American goods rather than American.  Some of these
lobbies, such as the car lobby, are powerful and donate a lot of money
to Democratic politicians.  Democrats did not used to be so
protectionist but in recent years they are.

Loss of the free trade agreements will have a significant impact on
Latin America-- although as I said before, some countries want to
protect their own goods flowing to these countries and thus do not
want America to sign free trade agreements with their trading
partners.  It depends on what country is being talked about and what
their individual interests are.


The Economist
"A partnership constrained"
Oct 5th 2006 | WASHINGTON, DC

If you need any additional clarification, let me know and I'll be glad to help.

There are no comments at this time.

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