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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act

October 21, 2011
Floor Statement

Below is Congresswoman Maxine Waters' statement on the House floor regarding the Colombian Free Trade Agreement:

Mr. LEVIN. I yield 2 minutes to the gentlelady from California, Maxine Waters.

Ms. WATERS. I thank my friend from Michigan, Congressman Sander Levin, for the time.

I rise to oppose this so-called free trade agreement. I find it deeply disturbing that the United States Congress is even considering a free trade agreement with a country that holds the world's record for assassinations of trade unionists and would cause a loss of 55,000 jobs in the United States.

The Congressional Black Caucus has been working hard to create jobs. We've held job fares in five cities in the country. We have been working hard to create jobs because the unemployment rate in this country is unacceptable: 9.1 throughout the country, 11.3 for Latinos, 16 percent for African Americans. We need jobs, not an unfair trade agenda.

Additionally, according to Colombia's National Labor School, 51 trade labor unionists were assassinated in 2010. That's more than the rest of the world combined. In addition, 21 unionists survived attempts on their lives, 338 unionists received death threats, 35 were forcibly displaced, 34 were arbitrarily detained, and 7 just disappeared in 2010. Another 23 unionists have been assassinated so far this year, and a total of 2,908 union members have been murdered in Colombia since 1986. And the Colombian Attorney General's Office has not obtained any convictions for these murders for the past 4 years.

The people of Colombia don't need a free trade agreement; they need a government that respects the rights of all of its citizens.

Let's vote down this trade agenda and tell the Government of Colombia that there can be no free trade without human rights and human dignity.