Colombia will not change its labor laws as part of a deal with the United States, but will only strengthen the country’s judicial branch to enforce the existing regulation, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said.
In an interview with Colombian daily El Espectador, Santos said that new labor laws already had been proposed by his government before striking a deal with the U.S. that makes way for a free trade agreement.
“Decisions regarding strengthening protection programs, assign judicial police to strengthen the capacity of the Prosecutor General’s Office, create tasks for new labor inspectors already had been taken and there are a number of legal initiatives that already were in process in Congress,” the head of state told El Espectador.
Santos rejected criticism that labor rights workers were particularly vulnerable to the primarily neo-paramilitary drug trafficking organizations in Colombia.
“The unionists aren’t the only citizens affected by the bacrim [criminal organizations]. This is a problem that must be tackled to protect all Colombians. The public forces and authorities are already focused on this,” the president said.
Santos and Obama closed a deal last week that gives Colombia until April 22 to comply to conditions set by the White House regarding the situation for workers and labor unions after which Obama will propose the FTA — stalled since November 2006 — to U.S. Congress.