Activists representing Colombia’s rural communities have implored European Union (E.U.) lawmakers to reconsider ratifying the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two economies, according to news-wire EFE Tuesday.
Human rights defenders and representatives from Colombia’s rural areas have been lobbying E.U. powerbrokers, claiming the FTA lacks sufficient protection for workers.
“The EU can not ignore the picture of impunity and violations that are being committed against the country’s rural communities,” claimed David Uribe at a press conference in Brussels. Uribe is currently working as a lawyer for Colombians displaced because of the armed conflict.
Colombia’s Trade Minister Sergio Diaz-Granados signed the FTA with the E.U. in Brussels on June 26, however the International Trade Commission (ITC) has yet to ratify the deal.
With the ITC set to make its decision by the end of November, critics are trying to make their voices heard.
Freddy Rodriguez, who is helping represent 96 families displaced by violence, said, “We also do not agree with the FTA. Farmers have no support from the state. It will be difficult to compete with E.U. products.”
Fellow activist Gildardo Tuberquia argued rural Colombians, “never had fair trade and now it will be worse.”
The Colombian government, aware of its mixed record on worker’s rights and human rights, sent its ambassador to the E.U., Rodrigo Rivera, before the ITC earlier this November to highlight the supposed progress made in these areas
Despite the Eurozone’s economic troubles, the deal is expected to boost Colombia’s trade with the region substantially given that the E.U., whose 27 members are counted as a single entity, is the country’s second-largest trade partner.