Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement: another Conservative blunder



    OTTAWA, Sept. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - With a national election fast
approaching, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is reminding the
public of the dangers of the Conservative's proposed free-trade agreement with
Colombia.
    Yesterday, during a session of its quarterly National Executive Board
meeting, the union adopted a resolution opposing the Canada-Colombia free
trade agreement (cupe.ca/colombia). Widely opposed by Colombian civil society,
Canadian unions and even the House of Commons Standing Committee on
International Trade, this agreement "is tantamount to a death sentence for all
who oppose the policies of the current Colombian government," said Paul Moist,
CUPE National President.
    Add this agreement to the list of disastrous international policy
decisions made by the Harper government. Finalized in secret last June, 2008,
the agreement solidifies ties with the government of President Alvaro Uribe.
His government is renowned for giving free rein to paramilitary groups
terrorizing and assassinating large numbers of Aboriginal people,
Afro-Colombians and union members.
    An estimated 5 million Colombians, many of them women and children, have
been forcibly displaced through land seizures benefiting corporate interests.
"Free trade with Colombia will add fuel to the fire, as it indicates to
multinationals that the brutal dispossession of Colombians will continue. The
agreement also constitutes a thumbs-up from Harper to Uribe, whose atrocious
human rights record is not improving. Colombia is the most dangerous place on
earth for trade unionists: 41 have already been assassinated in 2008, and no
fewer than 2,500 since 1986," noted Paul Moist.
    "The fact that Stephen Harper wants to be a close ally of the most
repressive government in the Americas says a lot about his vision of foreign
affairs. This agreement would be another nail in the coffin of the communities
under persecution, not to mention Canada's reputation. The best way for
Canadians to remedy the situation would be to defeat the Harper Conservatives
on October 14," concluded Paul Moist, who represented CUPE on an observation
mission to Colombia in July.

    A number of articles on CUPE's international solidarity work in Colombia
are available at cupe.ca/globaljustice




For further information:

For further information: Sébastien Goulet, CUPE Communications, (613)
808-0675; Paul Moist, CUPE National President, (613) 558-2873

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