We at Progress Illinois wanted to send some love to 17th District Congressman Phil Hare, who has consistently and vocally been on the right side of the current debate over the proposed Colombia trade pact, a controversial free trade deal that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is ...
We at Progress Illinois wanted to send some love to 17th District Congressman Phil Hare, who has consistently and vocally been on the right side of the current debate over the proposed Colombia trade pact, a controversial free trade deal that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is slated to shelve indefinitely today.
President Bush, who sent the deal to the House without first reaching consensus with congressional leaders, is bullying Congress to pass the bill because he thinks Colombia will present opportunities for American businesses, will act as "a buffer" against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and will join the fight against terrorists. But Hare, a former factory worker and union official himself, has repeatedly stressed the most important criticism of the deal: the human rights travesties visited upon Colombian labor organizers. Here's his take, with fellow New York Representative Michael Michaud, at the Huffington Post:
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.
Of the more than 2,500 murders in that nation since 1986, only 68 cases -- around 3 percent -- have resulted in convictions. However, many of these criminals were convicted in absentia -- meaning they may still be at large and continuing to terrorize workers.
Yet inexplicably, President Bush and some Members of Congress want to reward Colombia with a free trade agreement.
Not on our watch. The right to organize and bargain collectively is essential to human freedom. We believe passage of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would greatly diminish our nation's reputation as a leader in the fight to end human rights abuses worldwide.
Don't believe him? Check out the widely-circulated data from the Economic Policy Institute, which finds that over the past 21 years, more than 2,534 unionists have been assassinated.