Canada is ignoring the plight of the people of Colombia by negotiating a free trade agreement with the Uribe government.
Ottawa (23 Nov. 2007) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is supporting a week of action (Nov. 26-30) in solidarity with the people of Colombia. Much of the focus will be on Canada's efforts to negotiate a free trade agreement with Colombia, despite that country's abysmal human rights record.
The union is encouraging all concerned individuals to send letters to the Prime Minister and their MPs and, where applicable, to participate in rallies.
"Human rights abuses are widespread and rampant in Colombia," says NUPGE president James Clancy. "Canada is ignoring the plight of the people of Colombia by negotiating a free trade agreement with the Uribe government."
The human rights situation in Colombia has been the focus of an international campaign for more than a decade. More trade unionist are killed in Colombia than in the rest of the world combined. Journalists, electoral candidates, human rights workers, community union leaders and those who challenge President Uribe's policies are often the victims of death threats, disappearance or exile.
Clancy thinks Colombia "is not a country that Canada should even consider signing a free trade agreement with. Putting aside the whole debate about the impact of free trade on poor countries the human rights abuses alone should prevent any further negotiations," he says.
Recently the U.S. Congress refused to approve a similar agreement with Colombia based on evidence of government involvement in crimes against humanity, massive human rights violations, on-going unsolved crimes against labour activists and direct involvement of the Colombian government with paramilitary death squads.
"I wonder if, given the speed at which this trade deal was announced and is happening, whether the Harper government is pushing this through as a way to assist the Bush government," says Clancy. "What has happened to Canada's historic role as defending and promoting human rights internationally?" NUPGE
- E-mail a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper (this page is not available.)
- N.S. rally: stop Canada-Colombia free trade agreement
- Colombia: the struggle for justice and peace
- Human rights rhetoric contradicted by rush for trade pact