Trade II
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Issues 2000

Meanwhile, aside from Mexico, trade is stagnant between the United States and Latin America. The impact is serious: economists calculate that Latin Americaís per-capita income will actually be less next year than it was two years ago. Thatís why Iím calling for a free trade zone for the entire Western Hemisphere. Nothing could make a greater contribution to growing the economies of all the Americas. A wise thought! It is said that there are 31 million hispanics who are interested in moving to the United States. Can this country survive such an influx? Will there be anything left for anybody, including Americans?

I happen to have been in Miami when the famous Cumbre of the Americas took place. Youíll recalll that President Clinton asked a number of heads of state from Latin America to join him in Miami for a round of talks. The security was very tight. I could not make it to the Biltmore Hotel because they had security checkpoints three blocks away, all around the hotel. But I do remember the Herald Supplement. I remember the per capita income of the nations in attendance. I have not been able to forget those numbers because they are truly revealing. The big winner and in many ways out of place in the group of nations, was The Bahamas, with a per capita income of $11,000 per year. Second in per capita income was Argentina with $7,000. Iím mixed up about the nations in between the highest and lowest numbers. But I do remember that Boliviaís per capita income was listed as $200 per year. If I recall correctly, Colombia had a per capita income of $400. Others hovered between $1000 and $3000.

In a word the free trade zone sounds like an excellent idea. Imagine, the numbers may be lower this year!

Do we want higher immigration in this country? No. We need to help these nations if we can. And we need to strengthen our frontiers to prevent illegal immigration.