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Congresswoman Waters Opposes Colombia Free Trade Agreement; Calls on Colombia to Respect Human Rights

October 21, 2011
Press Release

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) announced her opposition to the  U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) at a press conference on Capitol Hill.  The House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 3078, a bill to implement the U.S.-Colombia FTA, this week.  The Congresswoman issued the following statement:

"I find it deeply disturbing that the United States Congress is even considering a free trade agreement with a country that holds the world record for assassinations of trade unionists.  According to Colombia's National Labor School, 51 trade unionists were assassinated in Colombia 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 disappeared in 2010.  Another 23 unionists have been assassinated so far this year, and a total of 2908 union members have been murdered in Colombia since 1986.

"The U.S.-Colombia FTA could also have a devastating impact on low-income farmers in Colombia, especially Afro-Colombian and indigenous farmers and farmers in Colombia's conflict zones.  These impoverished farmers would be forced to compete against imports of subsidized American agricultural products.  According to a study by Colombian economists, nearly 400,000 small farmers would lose between 48 and 70 percent of their income.  These people have already been disproportionately impacted by decades of civil war.  They don't need a free trade agreement.  What they need is peace.

            "Let's vote down this trade agreement, and tell the government of Colombia that there can be no free trade without human rights and human dignity."