Bush Celebrates Colombian Independence Day, Pushes FTA

Presdent Bush celebrated Colombia's independence day at the White House this afternoon, two days after the holiday, offering a "brief discurso" on why Congress should approve his trade agreement with the South American nation.

The president appeared with members of his cabinet, GOP Reps. David Dreier (Calif.),

"Today, almost all Colombian exports enter the United States duty free," Bush said. "Yet our products exported to Colombia face tariffs up to 35 percent."

Last year, according to Bush, exports accounted for over 40 percent of U.S. economic growth, and Bush posed free trade as a solution to current U.S. economic woes.

"Doesn't it make sense to continue that kind of growth during these economic uncertain times?" Bush asked. "I think it does."

Bush also called the agreement an "urgent national security priority," arguing that it would disrupt Venezuela's regional influence and combat Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) "terrorists...actively plotting against the Colombian government."

"It is in America's interests to stand by Colombia in the face of this threat," Bush said.

Bush sent the trade deal to Congress in April. Its critics have blasted Colombia as unsafe for workers, as trade unionists have been assassinated by the Colombian military.

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