U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said he believes Colombian president Alvaro Uribe been diligent in fighting the drug trade and reiterated that worker’s conditions must improve for him to support the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement in a Sunday interview with Caracol Radio Miami.
“I had a good conversation with president Uribe. I believe that he has worked hard in his country to reduce violence and drug trafficking, but as I told him we have to assure that the rights of workers are protected and there’s a lot of work to do.”
Specifically, Obama expressed his concern for the ongoing assassination of union leaders, a condition that must be remedied before he lends the bill support.
“Many union leaders have been assassinated or disappeared. I know that president Uribe has committed to improving the situation but I don’t feel comfortable in the advance of the free trade agreement until I’m sure that the rights of workers in that country are protected. I voted in favor of the free trade agreement with Peru, which is similar to the free trade agreement with Colombia but didn’t have the same problems as Colombia with relation to violence against workers,” he said.
Obama also commented on the topic of the U.S. undocumented population, which includes thousands of Colombians, in response to a question about stepped up government raids.
“I believe that the people that have worked with me in the state of Illinois know that I have backed, in a consistent manner, an immigration reform and I made it a priority of my first year of administration to look for a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants. At the same time, we have to assure that our borders are secure and penalize those employers that are abusing undocumented immigrants.”