As a presidential candidate in 2008, President Obama said that he would oppose the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement unless human rights conditions in that country were improved. Three years later, Colombia still faces deeply troubling levels of violence, displacement, and poverty. Colombia has over 5 million displaced people – more than any other country in the world. Trade unionists and human rights workers face constant threats. Extractive industry projects violently push indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities off of their lands.
Despite all of this, the Obama administration recently announced that it is prepared to submit the Colombia FTA to Congress for approval anyway. A new agreement was reached with the Colombian government to make some improvements on labor conditions, but this plan does not go far enough, and it fails to address broader human rights concerns. Moreover, agricultural provisions in the FTA will undermine the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, pushing more people into poverty and deepening the instability that drives Colombia’s violent conflict.
Mennonite Central Committee along with other religious organizations recently signed a statement opposing the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
Other human rights organizations have also released statements opposing the Colombia FTA: