Colombia should not be rewarded with a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States until it can curb the violence against its trade unionists and other civil activists, argued the United Steelworkers Wednesday.
The U.S. labor union continued its campaign against the FTA between the United States and Colombia Wednesday with a letter to the United States Congress itemizing the recent deaths of Colombian unionists.
According to the letter, U.S. senators and representatives should not pass the FTA until Colombia “develops a proven track record of bringing to justice those who have perpetrated crimes against union activists and has adopted and enforced workers’ rights throughout the country.”
In particular, the letter faults the administration of Colombian President Manuel Santos. Citing Justice for Colombia, a British non-governmental organization that campaigns for human rights, the United Steelworkers asserted that in the first ten month’s of President Santos’ term in office, an average of one person is assassinated every three days.
In an appeal to U.S. lawmakers, the letter lists 17 Colombian unionists killed so far this year.
“Dionis Alfredo Sierra Vergara, elementary school teacher and member of the Ademacor union, killed May 15, 2011 in La Apartada, Cordoba department.”
The assassinations violate the Labor Action Plan signed between the two countries in April, says the international president of the United Steelworkers. The Labor Action Plan, which ensures the rights and protection of Colombian workers and trade unionists, is a requisite of the pending FTA.
According to the United Steelworkers, “Colombia’s reality has not matched its rhetoric.”