Skip to main content

Jill Stein: Obama’s Colombian Trade Deal ‘Race to Bottom'

An angry Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein had this to say about Obama’s certification last Sunday of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

President Obama called it a win-win. No, it's a lose-lose for workers. It's a deadly assault on the freedom of Colombian workers to organize, as well as on the freedom of American workers from unfair competition from workers who make poverty wages because they are violently repressed.

It is a trade pact, explained Stein, in which more than 80 percent of industrial and manufactured products exported from the U.S. and from Colombia will be duty free. More than half of U.S. agriculture exports to Colombia will also become duty free.


The U.S. agricultural exports are not so-called free trade but subsidized trade. Many of them receive federal agribusiness subsidies. They will flood Colombian markets, displace Colombian farmers, reduce Colombia's food self reliance, and push farmers and farmworkers into the manufacturing labor market to further lower wages there. The trade deal is job killer for American workers and a wage depressor for Colombian workers.


This trade pact is a jobs export pact. Manufacturing jobs are going to flow from the U.S. to Colombia, where violence and intimidation against trade unionists makes the labor cheap.


Yes, I am for protecting people and planet. I support trade governed by rules designed to level-up labor and environmental standards to a high common level instead creating a race to the bottom. We need real free trade between free peoples in free markets. This trade deal favors the giant manufacturing oligopolies and subsidized agribusinesses at the expense of workers in both countries.


It's a deadly assault on the freedom of Colombian workers to organize, as well as on the freedom of American workers from unfair competition from workers who make poverty wages because they are violently repressed.

Last Sunday Obama announced the May 15th implementation of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement at a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the end of the Summit of Americas in Colombia’s Cartagena, a resort city. Congress had passed the trade agreement and Obama had signed it last October. The administration PROMISED FIRST to certify that Colombia would enhance its labor protection efforts. Ron Kirk, a US Trade Representative said that Colombia was going to better enforce homicide laws against killers of union organizers and anti-organizing laws.

Stein is not buying it. She has noted that 4,000 Colombian trade unionists have been murdered in the last 20 years per the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center. There have only been a few prosecutions for this colossal violence.

Stein goes on:

The killings of union organizers have not stopped. In 2011, 51 union organizers were murdered, according to the National School of Labor, a Colombian trade union. Four more have been killed so far this year.


Let's first see the murders stopped, the death squads prosecuted and convicted, the unions organized, and decent union contracts signed with the companies. Then we can talk about reducing trade barriers with Colombia.

Stein is not the only one livid about this administration’s cavalier attitude toward Colombia's horrifying history of anti-union violence as well as this administration's easy sell-out of American workers.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka via the AP called out Obama for putting "commercial interests above the interests of workers and their trade unions" by certifying the Colombian labor plan.

Also via AP, a lawyer with the United Steelworkers, Dan Kovalik said Obama's announcement was "premature in light of the continued violence against unionists and human rights defenders in Colombia.” 

Re the United Steelworkers, Stein’s website discloses:

...the United Steelworkers of America was a plaintiff in two lawsuits against Coca-Cola on behalf of a sister Colombian trade union. The lawsuits charged that Coca-Cola bottlers, "contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilized extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders.

Coca-Cola bottlers contracted with paramilitary thugs to use extreme violence to murder, torture, detain, silence trade union leaders.

Doesn’t make me proud to be an American. Enjoy your next Coke and try not to think about death squads snuffing out union members.

Wouldn’t it be nice to curb psychopathic corporations from murder and torture for profit?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a President like Jill Stein who actually cares about worker salaries and basic human rights protections for our citizens and foreign citizens? Who doesn’t believe profits should prevail over the safety and existence of human beings?

Stein is for Peace, People and Planet.

Not so Obama. Not so Romney. A/k/a Obomney!

[cross-posted on correntewire and open salon]