Another trade union leader killed in Colombia, why does our administration insist on Colombian FTA?

"2,510 killings of trade union leaders in the last ten years in Colombia" -IMF article

From International Metalworkers' Federation - IMF (3/27/08) :
Colombian trade union leader assassinated

COLOMBIA: The National Union of Coal Mine Workers, SINTRACARBON, has reported the deplorable news of the assassination of Adolfo González Montes, the union's leader and a member of the Barrancas branch committee.

The union said its leader was tortured and killed at his home on March 22. It also expressed its concern that several other union leaders have received threatening telephone calls and been subjected to harassment, with unknown persons prowling round their homes.

SINTRACARBON is the union of workers at the Carbones del Cerrejón company, owned by the multinationals BHP Billiton (Australia), Anglo-American (London) and Glencore/Xstrata (Switzerland). The company mines coal in the Guajira region of Colombia. Read Full Story
From Public Services International (3/27/08)
On 6 March hundreds of thousands of people participated in events in 102 cities in Colombia and around the world in solidarity with the victims of the paramilitary and the crimes of the State. By means of a public communiqué, the Government pointed out that it did not support this demonstration, but offered guarantees for the programmed events to take place. Nevertheless, Mr. Gaviria made public declarations referring to the planned demonstration as a march “convened by the FARC”. Despite a request by the organisers of the 6 March Global Action Day, no Government spokesperson withdrew these assertions. This situation generated an increasingly tense atmosphere which was further exacerbated by the declaration of the paramilitary group, Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, claiming that guerrillas were responsible for instigating the march. In the lead-up to 6 March, organisations promoting the day of action in Nariño were threatened and on 28 February, gunshots were fired at march organiser, Adriana González, in her apartment in Pereira.

Four trade unionists were assassinated during the week of the 6 March protests:
  • Carmen Cecilia Carvajal, teacher. Killed 4 March, in Ocaña.
  • Leonidas Gómez Rozo, member of the bankworkers union, Unión Nacional de Empleados Bancarios (Uneb), President of the CITY-BANK Employees Union. Killed on 5 March, in Bogotá.
  • Gildardo Gómez Alzate, teacher and activist of the Asociación de Institutores de Antioquia (Adida). Killed 7 March, in Medellín.
  • Carlos Burbano, vice-president of the National Hospital Workers’ Union who led the local 6 March demonstrations, disappeared on 9 March in San Vicente del Caguán. His body was found in the municipal rubbish dump, his face disfigured by acid.
Read Full Story
From Afl-Cio Webblog story entitled "Act Now to Stop Colombia Free Trade Deal" (3/24/08)
Photo credit: Colombia Indymedia

A Colombian worker in Bogata protests the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
With the U.S. economy in near free fall, President Bush has said he will send the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to Capitol Hill and demand a vote before he leaves office next January. Bush has made passing this agreement, which will do next to nothing for the failing U.S. economy, a priority.

Despite objections by the Democratic congressional leadership, the administration may formally send the agreement to Congress as early as next week when Congress returns from its Easter recess on March 31. Under Fast Track trade authority rules, the House of Representatives would likely face an up-or-down vote on the Colombia deal before the end of July.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is calling for an all-out nationwide mobilization to let members of Congress know that working Americans oppose this deal because it is wrong for workers in both countries. (Click here to tell your representative to oppose a trade deal with Colombia until their government makes real progress in protecting the lives and rights of union members.)

Says Sweeney:

The Colombia FTA represents a continuation of the Bush administration’s failed trade policies, an agenda that has contributed to the loss of over 3 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, skyrocketing trade deficits and paychecks that are shrinking at an accelerating rate.

Meanwhile, Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a union member—39 trade unionists were murdered in 2007, and another 11 to date in 2008. Of the more than 2,500 murders of trade unionists since 1986, only about 70 cases—around 3 percent—have resulted in convictions. Read Full Story
Act Now! Click Below!!

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Read more on what is happening in Colombia at Labourstart

Just the fact that the "independent" lobbyist for Big Business, the US Chamber Of Commerce, has posted a comment on this site which links to their "facts" about Labor Violence in Colombia can help you visualize exactly who stands to gain. Chamber Post even goes as far to state "We believe that free trade IS fair trade and it is time to level the playing field for American workers."

Edward Schumacher-Matos, CEO and editorial director of Meximerica Media, in a Op-Ed piece in the NY Times states in reference to Human Rights Watchs' position on the Colombia FTA, "they are harming Colombian workers in the process. The trade agreement would stimulate economic growth and help all Colombians.". I couldn't help but think of Bill Clinton selling us NAFTA under the "this will bring up the conditions of all workers in Mexico to the standards of the United States" idea.

It was bullshit then, history shows its bullshit now.

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