The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is circulating a letter sent by the speaker of the Colombian House of Representatives to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). In it, Colombian Speaker Oscar Palacio criticizes Pelosi for her opposition to the U.S-Colombia free trade agreement President Bush sent to Congress April 7.

In the letter, Colombian Speaker Oscar Palacio says the U.S. House's decision to shelve the agreement "affords colonial treatment to us that is unbefitting one of the United States' staunchest allies." The House voted April 10 to circumvent the fast-track law applying to trade deals and shelve the agreement, despite President Bush's attempt to force a vote.

Palacio also says arguments based on violence against Colombian union members are "erroneous." U.S. labor unions have used violence against union members as a cornerstone of their opposition to the deal. The LA Times outlined violence against Colombian unionists in March.

"Under the framework of the Democratic Security Policy, Colombia has made great efforts to prevent crimes of that nature from occurring," Palacio says.

See the text of the letter, as provided by USTR, below.

Ms. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.