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AFL-CIO takes on Colombian trade pact

AFL-CIO takes on Colombian trade pact

U.S. Congress is expected to act on trade agreements with Colombia, Peru, and Panama within the next few weeks, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

   However, the AFL-CIO has singled out the proposed Colombian trade agreement, and is mounting a campaign against the bilateral pact, citing violence against trade union leaders there. The Colombian trade institute Escuela Nacional Sindical (ENS) estimates 72 union officials were killed in 2006, with more than 2,200 union members killed since 1991.

   'Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a trade unionist,' the AFL-CIO said in a letter sent to members of Congress. The letter said the Colombia government has not made satisfactory efforts to investigate union-related deaths.

   But the union is not opposed to South American trade agreements in general.

   'The AFL-CIO believes that Colombia's atrocious human rights record sets it apart from Peru and Panama,' the letter said, 'and that no renegotiation of the U.S.-Colombia FTA would adequately address the violence confronting trade unionists in that country or the impunity for perpetrators of that violence.'