There have been recent ruminations that the Dems might actually consider bringing the Colombia FTA to the floor next year (ie the November 2 Inside U.S. Trade story entitled, "Rangel Willing To Consider Colombia FTA Next Year If Support Warrants"). But unlike with the Peru deal, the AFL-CIO is taking a hard line on this one, saying it "remains unalterably opposed" to the Colombia FTA. In a letter sent to both the House and Senate last Thursday, the day of the Peru vote, the AFL said:
"...two trade union leaders were murdered in Colombia within the last week... These murders are only the most recent and tragic reminders of the danger experienced by our Colombian brothers and sisters... More troubling, the vast majority of those responsible for the over 2,200 murders of trade unionists since 1991 are still at large and face no criminal charges. Even with the recent convictions, the impunity rate remains over 97 percent... passing the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement at this time would cost the United States considerable leverage over Colombia to encourage continued progress on human rights."
Attached to the letter is a laundry list of issues of concern, which could be summarized thusly:
- There are still more murders of trade unionists in Colombia than in any other country.
- The rate of impunity for the murder of trade unionists from 1991-2007 is between 97 and 98 percent.
- Dialogue between unions and the government is sorely lacking, and the ILO Office in Colombia lacks the political support, funding and staffing necessary to adequately fulfill its role (and its mandate will expire in October 2008).
- Colombia's labor laws are not in compliance with core ILO standards.
Read the full text of the letter, as well as the attachment, here (PDF).