Obama Sends Free Trade Agreements With Colombia & Panama To Congress
October 4, 2011 By Staff
Today in Latin America
Top Story — U.S. President Barack Obama sent free trade agreements (FTA) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea to Congress Monday, ending months of partisan negotiations and cueing up an expected heated debate between free-trade advocates and labor unions before the deals’ approval. The three oversized envelopes marked with the president’s wax seal and 16 additional boxes of documents arrived on Capitol Hill Monday afternoon, giving Congress a chance by mid-October to pass the FTAs, along with a related worker-assistance program. The FTA’s are expected to pass through the Republican-led House with little resistance, as the Obama administration added provisions to favor U.S. carmakers in an effort to appease union opposition and Democrats are expected to stick by Obama to give him a much needed win on the jobs front as election season ramps up. The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, plans to hold a rally Tuesday on Capitol Hill to protest the deals, but with such a short time frame for passage opponents have little time to block them. House Speaker, Republican John Boehner, said that passing the agreements was “a top priority for the House.” The FTA with Colombia had previously been held up due to concerns about labor rights, violence and impunity in the country.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The Mexican army detained Monday two soldiers who are allegedly connected with the kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl.
- Mexico City is considering allowing couples to sign short-term marriage contracts of two years in an effort to confront high divorce rates.
- The new legal red tape put in place by Alabama’s new immigration law has created long lines and extended waits at motor vehicle offices around the state.
- U.S. government-run Radio and TV Martí are turning to text messages to get their reports into Cuba, a development that the Castro government calls “cyberwar.”
- Haitian lawmakers delayed on Monday plans to vote for prime minister.
- A family that owns land near a Puerto Rican plant operated by U.S. drug maker Baxter international has sued the company for $50 million, alleging that the plant contaminated its property with radioactive cobalt and other hazardous materials.
- A group of religious leaders in Honduras demanded that the Honduran government deny a visa to Ricky Martin, claiming that the homosexual pop star is a bad moral example for the country’s youth.
- Surfers from San Francisco have broken ground on building a high school in a poor fishing town in El Salvador.
- Authorities in Honduras detained two men who were allegedly smuggling 118 exotic parakeets from Nicaragua to Honduras.
- A grenade blast in a prison in the northwestern Venezuelan state of Barinas killed four inmates and wounded seven others.
- Peru’s national police rescued 293 women from sex traffickers in an operation in an operation over the weekend in the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado.
- Residents from the Colombian town of Fortul took to the streets to demand the release of a kidnapped 10-year old girl.
- Chile’s new ALMA telescope is now functioning, allowing astronomers to research some see of the darkest and coldest regions of space.
- Brazil’s Environmental Ministry said that 7,000 square kilometers of the Amazon rain forest was destroyed between August 2009 and July 2010.
- The Brazilian Congress is prepared to override a veto barring the distribution of oil sector royalties among the country’s states.