Momentum is building fast in Washington to approve the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia.
We cannot let this unfair agreement move forward. President Obama must not consider it until there are major improvements in human rights and labor conditions in Colombia.
A fair and humane trade agreement cannot be implemented in an environment in which union leaders are assassinated, the land rights of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and small-scale farmers are consistently undermined, and millions of people have been violently robbed of their homes.
Colombia is still the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist. Colombian labor law doesn’t respect even minimum international labor standards, and the laws that are in place are not effectively enforced. When President Obama spoke during his campaign in 2008, he promised to not support a FTA with Colombia until conditions improved. They haven’t. There were 52 trade unionists killed the year he made his promise and 51 killed in 2010. Now we must hold him to his word.
Colombia now endures the largest displacement crisis in the world, even greater than that of Sudan, with 5.2 million people living in desperate conditions after being violently evicted from their lands. This agreement would encourage more large-scale agricultural, mining and other resource extraction projects that would push many Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities off their ancestral lands and into greater poverty. As for Colombia’s small-scale farmers still living on their lands, experience with similar agreements such as NAFTA has taught us that the unjust agricultural provisions of this trade agreement will make it even harder for these already struggling families to produce enough to survive.
Given the new makeup of Congress, if this agreement is considered, it will be a tough fight to keep it from passing. So we need to stop it in its tracks. And we need to do it now.
Act today and sign this petition to ask President Obama to say no to the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia.
During your own campaign for president, you vowed to not support this agreement until violence against unionists was resolved. But Colombia is still the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist, with 51 union activists killed in 2010 alone. Colombian labor law still does not respect even the minimum of international labor standards, and existing laws are not effectively enforced. Please keep your word and stop this FTA in its tracks until there are major improvements in human rights and labor conditions in Colombia.
Beyond labor issues, Colombia now endures the largest displacement crisis in the world, with 5.2 million people living in desperate conditions after being violently forced off their lands. Those who dare to stand up for their rights are routinely threatened and killed. The new Colombian government’s current attempts to address the issue take one step towards justice, but to date they fall far short of a safe and fair return of land to the millions of people who have been displaced.
A Free Trade Agreement at this time would only exacerbate this humanitarian crisis by encouraging more large-scale agricultural, mining and resource extraction projects that would push more communities off their ancestral lands and into greater poverty. Meanwhile, for Colombia’s small-scale farmers still living on their lands—some of those families most affected by the conflict—the agricultural provisions in a trade agreement like this will make it even harder to produce enough to survive without turning to illicit coca production or joining illegal armed groups.
Please act on the change you promised us and defend the rights of the rural poor, victims of violence, endangered workers, and those working for peace and justice in Colombia by keeping this trade agreement off the table.