Friday, April 20, 2012

Continued Murder of Unionists No Concern To Obama as Free Trade Deal Is Set To Become Law

Earlier this week:
President Barack Obama certified Colombia’s labor protection efforts, allowing both sides to put the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement into effect May 15.

“We’re moving ahead with our landmark trade agreement,” Obama said at a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos as they wrapped up the Summit of Americas in the resort city of Cartagena. Obama called the trade deal a “win” for both nations. In the U.S., it will create “thousands” of jobs, he said, and Colombia will get more access to the U.S. market, its largest.

However, several prominent politicians along with U.S. and Colombian labor unions disagree with this assessment and oppose the deal due to the fact that Colombia is still one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a trade unionist.

Paez said, "They have barely completed the minimum. Of the 37 points in the plan, the Colombian government has not even fully completed two of the requirements,”

In a 2008 campaign speech, Barack Obama said he would oppose the Colombia FTA “because violence against unions in Colombia would make a mockery of the very labor protections that we have insisted be included in these kinds of agreements.”

That year, 52 Colombian trade unionists were killed. In 2010, 51 workers were murdered. Between 2011 and 2012 the total is 34.

“To pass the FTA without completing the labor action plan is a way of saying that the FTA is more important to the U.S. than workers’ rights. The North American government is thinking more about domestic politics, like possibly the upcoming election or the need to provide markets for American-made products in other countries like Colombia,” said a spokesman of opposition senator Alexander Lopez Maya.
He went on to say that this weekend’s announcement was a negative signal to Colombian workers and about Obama’s stance on human rights. “The U.S. needs to evaluate how serious they are about workers rights. If their support is in fact just for show, then that’s what they demonstrated with this summit. What are the actual politics of the Obama administration with regards to human rights?” he asked.
The most bullshit filled statement of them all:
There are strong protections in the accord for labor and the environment, “commitments that we are going to fulfill,” Obama said.
Yes! Really strong protections for labor! The Action plan was taken sooooooo seriously that ONLY 15 unionists were murdered DURING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACTION PLAN. And that was in September. I don't know about the data between September and December, but I do know that 4 more unionists have already been murdered this year. So that's at least 19 unionist that have been murdered SINCE the glorious labor ACTION PLAN took effect. The action plan was always a load of shit, but 19 murders! And that's apparently good enough.

Common sense would tell you that if you actually gave a fuck about stopping these murders, that when your plan to stop them results in at least NINETEEN additional murders, you would probably take a step back and reconsider. Apparently not.
President Obama: We need to sign off on that trade agreement and make it official. Just to check in, since we pretended to care about unionist murders in Colombia in April last year and created that toothless "action plan", has it yielded any results?

President Santos: Since we've been pretending to do something about the fact that murdering unionists is basically legal in our country, at least an additional 19 union leaders have been murdered.

President Obama: Nineteen murders. Nineteen times a mother or father was taken away from their children, solely because they were leaders in a union. And since 19 people were killed when we were all pretending to care about this, we can pretty much guarantee that these murders will continue without any efforts to stop them once this deal is signed, right?

President Santos: Yeah basically.

President Obama: Good enough for me!
It's not pretty, but Obama's actions on this deal speak much louder than his lies about the agreement. He never took these murders seriously, and even worse than that, he attempted to whitewash them with an "action plan" that was nothing more than a joke.

This isn't an issue of wages or even bargaining rights. It's an actual issue of life or death, and the President has trivialized their deaths. President Obama and anyone else involved in this deal should be fucking ashamed of themselves. The blood is on their hands.

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