Colombian unions turned down Colombian President Álvaro Uribe’s
invitation to talk, accusing him of having implemented a policy to weaken the
position of labor organizations.
The unions say that under the Uribe administration 474 labor leaders were assassinated and in only 3 percent of the cases the perpetrators were brought to justice.
In a letter sent to French press agency AFP, the unions say “things have been very bad for workers” under the Uribe administration.
The letter came around the same tiem that U.S.President-elect Barack Obama called Uribe to express gratitude about Uribe’s congratulations following Obama’s victory in the U.S. election. According to AFP, the two talked about the pending free trade agreement for about ten minutes.
Colombia wants this trade agreement signed as soon as possible, but both Obama and his Democratic Party members in Congress refuse to pass the bill, unless Uribe improves the situation for labor organizations.
Colombia’s vice-President Francisco Santos warned a failed trade deal could seriously damage relations between the two allies, downplaying Colombia’s need for U.S. help in their fight against leftist guerrillas and drug traffickers.
A report by the International Trade Union Confederation Wednesday described Colombia as the most dangerous place for unionists.