Upcoming Event on Colombia and SPP

Our last posting announced an event to be held tomorrow (Feb. 27th) on the assasination of Colombian labor activists. Here’s the info again in case you missed it:

Luciano Vasquez, Director General of the Escuela Nacional Sindical, will address these issues at a Global Policy Network forum on Wednesday, February 27th. Click here for further information and to RSVP.

Here’s some information about an event in the Boston area on related topics—this time with a bit more advanced notice:

Alliance for Democracy/North Bridge chapter presents

NAFTA Failure and Alternatives for the Future:
Stop SPP and the US Colombian Trade Agreement

Sunday, March 9

2 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

MIT Building 34, Room 101

Learn about the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, a “super-NAFTA” package of trade and security initiatives being organized behind closed doors between corporate leadership and the Mexican, Canadian, and US governments, and the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (Colombia FTA), a “free-trade” agreement built on a history of neoliberal repression of workers rights. How can we stop these pro-corporate giveaways, and support democratic, fair-trade alternatives? Local groups are working to stop these measures and promote democratic alternatives‹find out how you can help!

This two-part event is free and open to everyone. NAFTA/SPP speakers include Carleen Picard of the Council of Canadians, Hector Sanchez, policy education coordinator for Global Exchange’s Mexico Program, and Manuel Perez Rocha, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington. At 4:10 p.m., author Maria Clemencia Ramirez and Luis Fernando Castro of Colombia Vive will discuss Plan Colombia and the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement.

Directions: MIT’s Building 34 is located at 50 Vassar St., off Mass. Ave, one block east of Memorial Drive.

Co-sponsored by the Greater Boston Latin American and Caribbean Coalition, Boston/Cambridge Alliance for Democracy, North Bridge Alliance for Democracy, AFSC Project Voice, MIT Western Hemisphere Project, Colombia Vive, Jobs with Justice, Massachusetts Global Action, Global Exchange, and Grassroots International. For more information, please call Barbara at 781-894-1179.

If you can’t make it to this event, check out our recent article on the SPP and the articles we’ve run on the dangers of labor organizing in Colombia (listed at the bottom of our last blog posting.

Murders of trade unionists go unpunished in Colombia

This from an Economic Snapshot from the Economic Policy Institute is by Tony Avirgan:

Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. Over the past 21 years, more than 2,534 unionists have been assassinated. (The Escuela Nacional Sindical has documented 2,534 assassinations but says there are surely more that have not been reported.)

President Alvaro Uribe was elected in 2002 and again in 2006 promising a crackdown on violence. His policies have resulted in a decrease in guerrilla violence, but there has been an increase in extrajudicial executions perpetrated by right-wing death squads and security forces (Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) news release, October 18, 2007). Assassinations of trade unionists have decreased, but so have prosecutions of the assassins. For the past two years, none of the killers of trade unionists has been brought to trial in Colombia.

Now, despite public outcry over these appalling human rights abuses and the firm opposition of U.S. and Colombian unions, the Bush administration is seeking to reward Uribe with a free-trade agreement.

Luciano Vasquez, Director General of the Escuela Nacional Sindical, will address these issues at a Global Policy Network forum on Wednesday, February 27th. Click here for further information and to RSVP.

See also several articles from Dollars & Sense about the dangers of organizing in the palm oil, cut flower, and bottled beverage industries in Colombia: Blood on the Palms, Oil-Palm Plantations on Afro-Colombian Lands, Stop Killer Coke!, Some Roses Don’t Smell So Sweet, and “Organizing Rural Labor in Colombia” (D&S November/December 2006, available only in the print edition).