Post-FTA Rise in Violence in Colombia Draws Attention of Congress

The Congressional Monitoring Group on Labor Rights in Colombia this week released a letter to President Obama expressing “deep concern and alarm” regarding a recent increase in violence against trade unionists in Colombia.  The May 17, 2012 letter lists several incidents in the past month, including the April 21, 2012 murder of Daniel Aguirre, a prominent leader of the sugarcane workers.   While the letter, signed by ten members of the Monitoring Group, is too diplomatic to make the point explicitly, the rise in violence identified in the letter has come since President Obama announced in mid-April while in Cartegena that the Colombia Free Trade Agreement would be implemented on May 15, giving up the Administration’s best remaining source of significant leverage to address violence, impunity, and other worker rights violations in Colombia.  

USLEAP welcomes the letter and regrets the rise in violence in Colombia.  USLEAP has long expressed concern that approval of the Colombia FTA could be followed by an increase in violence against trade unionists in Colombia, following a pattern set in Guatemala after implementation of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

Witness for Peace has an action alert in response to current violence against Colombian trade unionists.  Also, thank members of the Congressional Monitoring Group for signing the letter.