National Executive Board Meeting
September 24-25, 2008
CUPE NATIONAL WILL:
1. Continue to strongly oppose the free trade agreement with Colombia negotiated by the Stephen Harper government and strengthen that opposition by continuing to work in coalition with other unions and groups involved in Colombia;
2. Demand that the government respect the recommendations of the House of Commons Standing Committee on international trade which, in its recent report, also opposes the free trade agreement;
3. Inform CUPE’s membership, the Canadian public, the federal government and federal opposition parties of the findings of a one-week public sector leadership tour of Colombia;
4. Act decisively during the next federal election to expose the Conservative government as willing to sign a free trade agreement with Colombia that is tantamount to signing death warrants for all those who oppose the policies of the current Colombian government.
• There is widespread concern among Colombian trade unionists, opposition politicians and human rights activists that free trade would further exacerbate an already intolerable level
of human and labour rights abuses;
• An estimated 5 million Colombians, many of them women and children, have been forcibly displaced through land seizures that benefit corporate interests and that the government of President Álvaro Uribe has allowed to take place at the hands of paramilitary groups who act with impunity;
• Indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians are the hardest hit by the displacements, losing their land, livelihoods and often the family breadwinners;
• The final report of the Permanent People’s Tribunal charges numerous multinational corporations with “crimes against humanity” and the Uribe government with being complicit in allowing corporate interests to turn Colombia into a free trade laboratory wherein privatization of virtually all public services is being carried out;
• Colombia is considered by many to be the most dangerous place on earth for trade unionists and others, who are under constant threat from paramilitary death squads; this year alone,
38 trade unionists were murdered.