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Colombia FTA passage ‘gave green light’ to union killings: AFL-CIO

posted by Adriaan Alsema

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AFL-CIO

The United States Congress launched “a new wave of anti-union violence” in Colombia when it approved the country’s Free Trade Agreement, the largest union federation in the U.S. told Barack Obama Wednesday.

In a letter to the U.S. president, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka urged Obama to “postpone indefinitely the implementation of the FTA, making it clear to the Colombian government that it will not be implemented until such anti-union violence ceases and workers can exercise their rights to organize and bargain without fear.”

According to the union federation, four more labor rights workers have been killed in the first month of this year.

Trumka also calls on Obama to “ensure that the State Department and other U.S. agencies comply in full with the human rights conditions imposed on military aid to Colombia,” following a report by Human Rights Watch that accused the U.S. of failing to impose human rights conditions.

Colombia and the U.S. signed a Labor Action Plan (LAP) in April 2011 to ensure the protection of labor rights workers and the prosecution of those threatening or killing unionists. The LAP paved the way for Democrats in Congress to approve the FTA, the passage of which had been delayed since 2006 over human and labor rights concerns.

According to Colombia, all the requirements of the LAP have been met. However, Colombia’s socialist opposition party Polo Democratico deny this and claim that 58 labor rights activists have been murdered since Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos took power in August 2010.

The United States has not responded to Colombia’s claim that it is complying to the LAP requirements.

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