Ongoing Murders in Colombia Threaten U.S. Trade Agreement

April 14, 2008 04:16 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A rise in murders of union members highlights Colombia’s political unrest, prompting U.S. policy makers to question the feasibility of the proposed U.S.-Colombian trade agreement. 

30-Second Summary

Violence against Colombian union workers by Colombian guerilla fighters and the paramilitary threaten a trade agreement with the United States.

Since conservative Colombian President Alviro Uribe took office in 2002, violence against union members has generally been on the decline. However, “17 union members have been killed [this year], a rate that suggests a substantial increase in anti-union violence compared with 10 such killings in the same period the year before.”

While the majority of the attacks have been blamed on left-wing guerilla fighters, some were initiated by right-wing paramilitary groups who have been linked to members of President Uribe’s government.

The political unrest in Colombia has prompted many U.S. policy makers to question President Bush’s controversial  free-trade agreement, which would help open trade between the U.S. and Colombia.

Democrats in particular oppose the trade agreement and refused to pass the proposal through Congress on Tuesday.  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recently noted, “A successful trade agenda depends on a joint partnership between the Congress and the Administration…Any deviation from this normal procedure…would work against both countries' long-term interests."

Headline Link: ‘Union Killings Peril Trade Pact with Colombia’

Background: President Bush proposes free-trade agreement; Congress reacts

History: An ongoing pattern of violence against Colombian union members

Opinion and Analysis: U.S. rejection of free trade—moral stance or simply an excuse?

Key Players: Colombian President Alviro Uribe, the AFL-CIO

Colombian President Alviro Uribe

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