Colombian Vice President in DC Lobbying Unions & Congress to Support US-Col Free Trade Agreement

Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon is in Washington DC lobbying for passage of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. As a former unionist and progressive turned neoliberal, Garzon plans to meet with opponents of the FTA, including officials from the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters and the United Auto Workers, as well as with Sen. Sherrod Brown. Garzon will be peddling a well-worn lie: that the situation for human and labor rights has sufficiently improved to warrant the FTA’s passage.

Contact the AFL-CIO’s President Richard Trumka, Teamsters President James Hoffa, UAW Pres. Bob King, and Sen. Sherrod Brown. Write them at:

Tell them to stand strong against the US-Colombia FTA. Copy the following message or use your own words:

Thank you for your continued opposition to a US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Despite what Colombian Vice President Garzon may have told you recently, respect for human and labor rights in Colombia has not improved and an FTA would only worsen conditions.

Please consider:

* While figures for all of 2010 have not been released, as of September 14, 36 Colombian unionists had been murdered, up ten over the same period in 2009. Over 2,700 unionists have been murdered over the last two decades.

* The impunity rate for Colombian Security Forces involved in political murders has risen from 95% to 98.5%.

* During the first 75 days of Juan Manuel Santos’ presidency, 22 political activists were assassinated, including 5 social movement activists, 7 indigenous leaders, 1 human rights defender, 5 unionists, 2 community educators and 2 LGBT rights activists.

* Colombian authorities are investigating the extrajudicial executions of 2,650 civilians and the involvement of 1,100 soldiers. Additionally, mass graves have been discovered filled with youth killed by Colombian armed forces. One grave revealed 2,000 unidentified bodies.

* Some 4.5 million Colombians have been displaced, 60% being family farmers. FENSUAGRO, Colombia’s largest labor organization of farmers and farm workers, is the most affected union by displacement and political violence, and the attacks continue unabated.

* Colombia has 7,500 political prisoners, many of them unionists, and the rate of provably arbitrary arrests of dissidents has risen 300% since 2002.

NOTE: Our apologies for sending this alert out with a misspelling the first time. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s last name was misspelled in the original.