The White House announced on Wednesday, April 6th, that US and Colombian negotiators have reached agreement on all points regarding the pending Free Trade Agreement. With ample support from both parties in Congress, a vote is expected to come quickly. Outside Congress, the situation is the opposite: recent polls show over 60% opposition to new FTAs from both union members and tea party supporters. It will take a groundswell of opposition from the grass roots to stop this FTA. With the 2012 campaign already underway, it is crucial to demonstrate the unpopularity of this and other FTAs.
The Alliance for Global Justice is asking people to contact their Congresspeople and demand they oppose the US-Colombia FTA. We also ask that people consider visits to their Representatives’ local or DC offices to discuss the matter face to face.
To Call Congress:
(202) 224-3121 | TTY: (202) 225-1904
To send an email to your Representative:
To locate your Representative’s offices:
I urge you to oppose a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia! It is unpopular with grass roots voters on the Left and the Right. Reports of improved labor and human rights in Colombia are misleading and should not be rewarded with this FTA! Consider that:
- In 2010, there were 51 union members assassinated in Colombia, up over 48 in 2009. Impunity for such murders rose from 95% to 98%.
- Colombia has more than 5 million persons forcibly displaced from more than 10 million acres. This FTA will flood Colombian markets with produce from US megafarms and cause a new round of economic displacement in the same way US NAFTA corn did in Mexico. Local, sustainable farms will be replaced by giant and foreign-owned plantations.
- This FTA will be another blow to people in the US, since more of our jobs are lost and our family farms closed every time an FTA is passed.
Vote NO on the US-Colombia FTA and all pending FTAs!
A Word to Unionists and Allies: Honoring Hector Orozco and Gildardo Garcia, Killed Last Week in Tolima, Colombia
Central to “resolving” differences between the US and Colombia has been the issue of labor rights. In an “Action Plan Related to Labor Rights”, US and Colombian negotiators have worked out a way to deal with that that they say justifies the FTA’s passage.
It is sadly ironic to hear this news after having just learned of the assassination of two members of ASTRACATOL, the peasant farmers union of Tolima. Héctor Orozco and Gildardo García were shot and killed on March 30th while traveling home on a motorcycle. Orozco was Vice President of the local union and also of the Community Action Council, of which Garcia was a member. They were both fathers of young children, both in their 30s. AFGJ has circulated a number of alerts about attacks and threats against ASTRACATOL and we will meet with some of their members in an upcoming delegation. We specially extend our sympathies to their families and union sisters and brothers and express our wishes for their safety and well-being.
Besides its infamous record for murders of labor leaders, Colombia continues to have one of the lowest rates of union representation in the world, with membership among 4% of the workforce. While a small percentage of the general population, unionists constitute a more significant share of Colombia’s 7,500 political prisoners.
Without concrete evidence that Colombia has become safer for workers, this “Action Plan” is just window dressing to justify the FTA. Neither has it addressed the needs of Colombia’s family farmers. For instance, the FTA would benefit large, monoculture operations such as giant palm oil plantations. The Nation magazine has reported that around half of Colombia’s palm oil plantations are owned by paramilitary members and associates.
The line that is being peddled in Washington is that labor and human rights are improving in Colombia, so the time is ripe to pass this FTA. But that’s all it is–a line.
In honor of Héctor Orozco and Gildardo García, AFGJ asks union members to support labor mobilizations against the US-Colombia FTA and to join us in contacting Congress about this important matter.