CommunityFDL Main BlogWork In Progress

It’s Not “Free Trade” When Union Members are Murdered

Mourning in Colombia (Marcelo Salina/AFL-CIO)

President Obama apparently plans to submit long-stalled free trade deals with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia to Congress “as soon as possible,” according to a speech he made today.

“Simply put, export growth leads to job growth and economic growth,” Obama said in prepared remarks that focused on the need to bring about long-term economic stability through expanding U.S. exports.

Obama said he’d instructed U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk “to begin discussions to resolve outstanding issues” on a free trade agreement with South Korea before Obama’s visit to Seoul in November.

He said he hoped to resolve that agreement, as well as agreements with Panama and Colombia, for Congress to consider as soon as possible.

“We’re working to resolve outstanding issues with the free trade agreements with those key partners, and we’re focused on submitting them as soon as possible for congressional consideration,” Obama said.

If Obama wants to have the Colombia agreement see the light of day, there’s a number of “outstanding issues” to be resolved. Specifically, the murders of more union members in Colombia than the rest of the world combined every year. Forty-eight union members were killed in Colombia in 2009, 49 in 2008, and another 49 in 2007. All in all, more than 4,000 union members have been killed in Colombia in the last twenty years. If Obama wants a Colombia Free Trade agreement, this better be part of the “outstanding issues” to resolve.

Stepping back a bit – why does it make any political sense at all to push through three free trade agreements in an election year? What kind of moron would think voters want to hear about opening trade with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea as a way to spur economic growth?

Oh, maybe this guy.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been telling Democrats a win on the health issue will reverse the slide in public opinion, just as passage of another controversial proposal, the North American Free Trade Agreement, lifted President Bill Clinton in the polls.

Got it. Thanks, Rahm!

Previous post

The Roundup

Next post

Empires Strike Back: Status Quo Will Fight Reformers on Many Fronts - Lessons from the Nonpartisan League, Part Five

Michael Whitney

Michael Whitney

My name is Michael Whitney. I'm a progressive online organizer working with FDL Action. Rush Limbaugh called me "clueless" once. He went into rehab two days later.