After four new murders of labor leaders in Columbia in January, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called on U.S. President Barack Obama to delay the implementation of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement indefinitely. The agreement, which was passed last year, was delayed for years because of violence against labor leaders. More than 2900 Colombians involved in the labor movement have been killed in the last 25 years. Colombia is the deadliest country for union members in the world. Killings have continued unabated in 2012:
The letter states that through January, one union member was killed by Colombian troops, a second was shot to death along with his wife, a third worker was “brutally murdered” and a fourth union member employed by the National Industry of Sodas (Coca-Cola) was “murdered by gunfire.”
When the bill passed, it included a Labor Action Plan designed to deal with the violence, but Colombian labor leaders say that has failed:
We applaud the creation of the April 7, 2011, U.S.-Colombia Labor Action Plan that intends to take important steps in addressing endemic labor issues in Colombia. However, the Plan continues to face serious challenges in its implementation. Union leaders and labor activists continue to be assassinated, threatened, and intimidated, and the perpetrators enjoy almost complete impunity.