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Colombia Free Trade Agreement

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Location: Washington, DC


COLOMBIA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT -- (House of Representatives - April 15, 2008)

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Mr. CARTER. I thank you for yielding to me. My friend from California is gracious to do so.

Let me start off by telling you what happened when I decided I was going to Colombia. My daughter, who lives here in Washington, called me up and said, Daddy, I told you not to go down to Colombia. Didn't you see ``Clear and Present Danger?'' Didn't you see that movie? Have you lost your mind?

I want to point that out because I think that's a lot of what the American people think about Colombia when it comes to their mind, they think of that movie and that book. And I am pleased to say that I was very pleasantly surprised to find a very peaceable place where an awful lot of people have done an awful lot of hard work to get violent people out of their country and to get those people who joined defense bands and guerrilla bands to lay down their weapons.

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Mr. CARTER. You know, the first question, they all started talking about how they joined the paramilitary unit. They told about families being slaughtered, being separated from their families, having to run and escape the guerrillas that came out of the woods. And they ran to escape, and then came back to find their families slaughtered, and so they joined a paramilitary group. And a question was asked, rather naively, I think, by us, you mean, you were carrying weapons? Absolutely. Every one of them, male and female, were carrying weapons. And now they are working in programs that are changing the culture of these people that joined the violent behavior. They have laid down their weapons. We asked them why. They said the comandantes said we have talked to the president, we lay down our weapons, and they did.

They are out studying. They're proud to say they're getting high school educations. They're proud to say they're going to trade schools. A few were proud to say they had received admission to university. These were jungle fighters just a short while ago, and now they are coming into society and working very hard because they see a future for Colombia. And this future rests upon a world of free enterprise and trade, and this agreement starts the process that gives them many opportunities for free trade around the world.

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