Michaud, Hare Pledge to Swiftly Defeat Colombia FTA if President Submits it Unilaterally
Congressman Mike Michaud (D-ME) and Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL), both members of the House Trade Working Group and trade unionists, today pledged to defeat the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) if President Bush submits it to Congress next year. Under fast-track rules, Congress is obligated to consider trade bills in a set amount of time once they are formally submitted.
"The majority of the Democrats in the House spoke loud and clear when they voted no on the Peru Free Trade Agreement," Michaud stated. "To even consider a trade agreement with Colombia, a country riddled with trade unionist assassinations and narco-trafficking, would be a disaster. There is no way that the Democratic majority will give the Bush Administration any authority to move a trade agenda forward with a country plagued by so many problems."
"For President Bush to even suggest unilaterally submitting the controversial Colombia FTA shows just how unwilling he is work with Congress toward making legitimate reforms to our trade policy," Hare said. "The Colombia FTA is even worse than Perucombining the failed NAFTA-CAFTA trade model with a nation whose record of violence against union organizers is nothing short of disgraceful."
More labor leaders have been murdered in Colombia than the rest of the world's nations combined. According to Colombian labor rights groups, more than 2,500 trade unionists have been killed over the last 20 years and 26 in 2007 alone, with almost all cases remaining unsolved.
"The right to organize and bargain collectively is essential to human freedom," Hare said. "What message will it send to the rest of the world if we decide to trade with a nation where forming or joining a union can cost you your life?"
Michaud and Hare said members of the House Trade Working Group would mobilize quickly to build bipartisan opposition to the Colombia FTA. In November, they helped convince a majority of Democrats to oppose the flawed Peru FTA.