Attention: News Editors/News Desk
MEDIA CONTACT: Luis Granados Cejas
Latin Americans in Toronto demand the rejection of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) by the Canadian Parliament
As members of the Latin America Solidarity Network (LASN), we express our deep concern about the possible approval by the Canadian Parliament of a Free Trade Agreement with the Colombian government. Our concern is based on the following considerations:
1. Canada should refrain from signing an agreement that strengthens and gives legitimacy to a corrupt and criminal government such as that of President Alvaro Uribe. Union leaders, peasants, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian farmers, unemployed youth, human rights activists and journalists are threatened, displaced or assassinated on a regular basis. Paramilitary death squads continue to carry out gross human rights violations. State security forces are directly involved in these crimes. Amnesty International found that between June 2006 and June 2007 at least 280 civilians were extra-judicially killed by the security forces. In the past eight months, 27 trade unionists and more than 77 members from Indigenous communities have been murdered.
2. The approval of a FTA between Canada and the Colombian government will mean direct political support for Uribe’s agreement on the installation of five new U.S. military bases in Colombia, aimed to destabilize Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. The installation of these military bases will unleash the militarization of Latin America at levels never seen before. By signing the FTA, Canada will be acting in direct opposition to the majority of the presidents of UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) who recently rejected the installation of the US military bases in Colombia.
3. Free trade agreements do not necessarily increase democracy or protect human rights, as clearly demonstrated by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in Mexico. The CCFTA, furthermore, offers no conditions that would assure benefits for medium and small-sized producers in either Canada or Colombia, particularly for rural and indigenous people in that country, who are affected by unemployment, expulsion from the land and environment degradation.
Latin American Solidarity Network-Toronto (www.rlasn.org)