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Public Statements

Do Not Reward Colombia with a Fair Trade Agreement

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. Speaker, if I had been born in Colombia, I would probably be dead. As a former president of my labor union, my fight for higher wages, better working conditions, and secure pension could have cost me my life.

Thirty-nine trade unionists were murdered in Colombia in 2007, and they are being killed at a rate of over one per week this year. Even more alarming is only around 3 percent of cases result in convictions, illustrating the culture of violence that has existed in Colombia for decades. Inexplicably, President Bush wants to reward Colombia with a free trade agreement. Not on my watch.

The right to organize and bargain collectively is essential to human freedom and the passage of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement would greatly diminish our Nation's reputation as a leader in the fight to end human rights abuses worldwide. We should not even consider this agreement until Colombia puts a stop to the violence against union organizers.

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