Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I thank my good friend, the chairman of the committee, for yielding.
I am just astounded, but I am very pleased to hear my good friends from the other side speak so eloquently about support for human rights and support for labor leaders and workers' rights. Yet some of these folks are the very same ones who want to lift those sanctions against Communist, totalitarian Cuba, where labor unions are outlawed, where workers have no rights, and where human rights are not respected at all. I don't think the Castro brothers can even spell ``human rights'' in either language.
But on to the point of human rights and free trade and dignity for workers in Colombia, I am so pleased that, finally, we are going to pass this agreement.
In south Florida, Colombia is already south Florida's second largest trading partner. Our two largest economic engines are the Port of Miami and the Miami International Airport, both of which will benefit tremendously from the increase in trade with a free, democratic Colombia.
So I welcome this, and I hope that this newfound love for human rights and trade and labor unions will extend to my native homeland of Cuba one day.
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Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
After having waited for years since this agreement was first signed the time has finally come for Congress to vote to approve it.
This agreement is, good for Colombia but is even better for the United States.
According to the International Trade Commission, the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement will expand exports of U.S. goods by more than $1 billion dollars every year which will allow businesses to create thousands of new jobs for those Americans who are struggling to find one.
In South Florida, Colombia is already our second largest trading partner.
Our two largest economic engines are the Port of Miami and Miami International Airport, both of which will benefit tremendously from the increase in trade with Colombia.
In 2010, Colombia was the 10th largest trading partner with the Port of Miami, with bilateral trade worth $6.8 billion.
And 96 percent of the flowers that are sent to the U.S. from Colombia come through Miami International Airport, which helps support tens of thousands of jobs related to the airport and several aviation industries.
These figures will grow rapidly once this agreement has been approved.
But there is more at stake here than increased trade.
Colombia has been a strong democracy and a steadfast ally in a region where U.S. interests are under assault.
We have jointly battled narco-terrorists, leftist guerrillas, and the aggressive actions of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.
This agreement will strengthen that vital partnership between our two nations and demonstrate to our friends and enemies alike that the U.S. intends to remain a strong presence in the region.
Madam Speaker, it is time to put American interests first instead of the partisan political considerations that have delayed this agreement for years.
I strongly encourage my colleagues to vote yes on the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and allow our businesses to finally begin creating the jobs that so many Americans are searching for.