One of the most vocal members of the U.S. Congress opposing the pending free trade agreement (FTA) has spoken out again against the violence in Colombia.
Representative George Miller, the senior Democrat of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, argued that it is the job of the elected leaders in the United States to ensure “that those who receive trade preferences respect essential democratic rights.” He expressed concern about the high levels of violence against unionists.
“Death squads are unleashed against union activists and union rights leaders and defenders. Union leaders are gunned down in broad daylight.”
Miller added, “This isn’t yesterday’s news, the intimidation and violence continue to this day. There have been 47 confirmed killings of unionists in Colombia this year. Last year 90 unionists were murdered worldwide, 49 of them in Colombia. Colombian unionists face the highest rates of murder anywhere in the world.”
The representative commended President Juan Manuel Santos and President Obama for creating the Labor Action Plan, a requisite for the approval of the FTA which forces the Colombian government to address the violence against unions. He believes, however, that the Labor Action Plan does not do anything to ensure the specifics of the plan are actually carried out.
Miller would like to see the text of the Action Plan included in the FTA to make sure the agreement could not go into effect until all the prerequisites are actually met.