Hilary Clinton: No Trade Deal for Colombia until Unionist Killings Stop
News from Colombia |
on: Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Despite intense lobbying by the Colombian Government, incoming US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton yesterday made clear that the Obama administration will not be agreeing to a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia any time soon. According to Clinton "continued violence and impunity directed at labor and other civic leaders makes labor protections impossible to guarantee in Colombia today."
Clinton, who was responding to questions from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of her confirmation hearing, added that "Colombia must improve its efforts" and made clear that the Free Trade Agreement would need to be renegotiated to include adequate labour protections – protections that she said currently did not exist in Colombia.
The Bush administration, with the enthusiastic backing of the Uribe regime in Bogota, had pushed hard for the agreement to be signed before Bush left office but failed after widespread concerns were expressed by Democrats and the US trade union movement over the growing violence against Colombian trade union activists. Uribe himself regularly visited Washington last year in a bid to convince Congress to pass the deal but his lobbying was seen as ineffectual after he repeatedly provided misleading information about the situation in Colombia.