Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Promises, promises--but more brutality

Colombia’s record of violence against organized labor is considered the worst in the Western Hemisphere. Since the 1980s, over 3,000 Colombian unionists have been assassinated & thousands of other activists tortured & disappeared. Several lawsuits have been filed against Chiquita, Occidental Petroleum, the coal mining company Drummond, & Coca-Cola because considerable evidence suggests their complicity in these crimes. Not deterred by corporate felonies & criminality, the US Congress signed the US-Colombia free trade agreement in 2006. This agreement negotiated by the two governments on behalf of multinational corporations would open Colombia to exports of US agricultural & manufactured goods &, as all such agreements, it would undercut unions & decimate labor rights (particularly for women & Afro-Colombians). The agreement was put on hold due to strong opposition from labor & human rights groups in the US & Colombia, including from the AFL-CIO. But instead of waging a campaign within the unions to defeat the agreement, the AFL-CIO stuck to collegial denunciations. (That way they can bankroll Obama’s reelection without too much interference from the ranks of labor.) Last October, Obama signed the trade agreement into law because of what he called historic progress for Colombian labor & human rights. What persuaded his sorry ass was Colombia’s creation of a new labor ministry, promises to prosecute crimes against working people & to crack down on the violence. The man’s not credulous; he’s dishonest & doesn’t give a damn about Colombian workers anymore than he does US workers. This photo is more proof of the political bankruptcy, empty promises, & criminality of the Colombian regime (not to mention, the US regime): riot cops in Bogota fire tear gas at students protesting the free trade agreement which went into effect yesterday. (Photo by William Fernando Martinez/AP)

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