George Bush today sent a proposal to Congress to create yet another “free” trade agreement — this time with Colombia, a country where more than 2,200 trade unionists have been assassinated since 1991.
During an appearance at the White House, Bush said he signed a letter giving Congress 90 working days to vote on the agreement.
The labor federations Change to Win and the AFL-CIO oppose this agreement. Change to Win says: “The Colombia “free” trade agreement is a bad deal for American and Colombian workers alike.”
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton also oppose this agrement. So should all Democrats, including you.
More, after the fold.
Sen. Barack Obama said Bush is “absolutely wrong” to support the deal, adding that the Colombian government was suspected of “potentially having supported violence against unions, against labor, against opposition.”
Sen. Hillary Clinton said “We’ve got to have new trade policies before we have new trade deals. That includes no trade deal with Colombia while violence against trade unionists continues in that country.”
From Greg Tarpinian, Executive Director, Change to Win
We’ve seen the results that “free” trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA have had on our country — jobs lost, communities devastated, families without a chance to achieve the American Dream.
But this new proposal rewards a government that has done nothing to protect its workers from those who would use violenceto violate their rights.
Stand up for workers both here and in Colombia — click the linkbelow to send your Members of Congress an e-mail urging them tooppose the Colombia “free” trade agreement:
The Colombia “free” trade agreement is a bad deal for American and Colombian workers alike.
American workers want fair trade policies, not more of the same job-killing agreements we have seen in the past. But while the labor chapter of the Colombia FTA is an improvement, it is unenforceable, and the rest is modeled off the same flawed language found in NAFTA and CAFTA — agreements which resultedin major job losses here at home, environmental degradation and the decimation of family farmers in other countries, and increased immigration to the U.S.
Colombian workers want the freedom to exercise their right to form a union — a basic, internationally recognized human right– without fear of violent reprisal. But Colombia is the mostdangerous place in the world to be a union activist, and thegovernment there has shown little interest in stepping in toprotect workers. All but a handful of the perpetrators of these murders have gone free. That is simply unacceptable.
The AFL-CIO agrees:
Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for a trade unionist-2,262 union leaders and members have been murdered there since 1991-and the government routinely ignores or violates internationally recognized workers’ rights. Yet the Bush administration continues to push for a trade deal with Colombia.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says he does not see why President Bush
…did not publicly raise the issue of violence against trade unionists and impunity for the perpetrators of this violence during his recent trip to Colombia. Instead, President Bush threw his full support behind President Uribe and the Colombian government.
AFL-CIO Policy Director Thea Lee says the Colombian government’s open hostility toward trade unions helps explain why illegal armed groups and even state security forces continue to target trade unionists and why so few people are prosecuted.
Jorge Sanchez, vice minister of Labor, recently told the Associated Press that trade unionists “thrive on violence and blood,” insinuating that trade unionists somehow enjoy being the victims of systematic murder. His remark underscores his government’s complete disregard for the lives of its workers, not to mention their integrity and humanity.
In March, the AFL-CIO Executive Council said “the agreement with Colombia should be put off and the deals with Peru and Panama need to be renegotiated.” AFL-CIO: No Trade Deal with Colombia
The AFL-CIO has concluded that no trade agreement with Colombia should be considered until the country meets an established set of human rights benchmarks. These benchmarks would include: completely severing all ties with paramilitary organizations and international criminal networks, making significant advances in the investigation and prosecution of crimes against trade unionists and providing meaningful and adequate protection for unions and trade unionists. The government must also bring its labor laws into conformity with ILO core labor standards and provide full support for the newly created ILO office in Colombia to monitor labor rights compliance and pursue the investigation of key cases of assassinations of trade unionists. Until these benchmarks are met, the AFL-CIO says the U.S. should not consider any trade pact with Colombia.
Add your voice to the united voice of labor and Senators Obama and Clinton:
Just say No to Bush on Unfair Trade Agreements!