U.S. - Colombia Free Trade Agreement

CRLN Sends Public Comment to US Trade Representative

In August, the U.S. Trade Representative invited public comment on the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement by September 15.  Thanks to NGO groups in Washington, DC, that invited broad participation into this USTR comment process, CRLN provided the following comment.  The basis of the comment was the report of CRLN's delegation  to Afro-Colombian territories in August 2007.  To read the report from the 2007 delegation to Afro-Colombian territories, follow this link http://www.crln.org/Colombia+Delegation+2007+Report


Dear U.S. Trade Representative: 

We ask that the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement be withdrawn and renegotiated under a new process: one that is open and inclusive that engages labor, campesino organizations, Afro-Colombian Community Councils formed under Law 70, and organizations of indigenous peoples in Colombia. 

The attached 8-page report details a personal visit to Colombia in August 2007 by me as CRLN program director and one of CRLN's board members, an Afro-Colombian living in Chicago. Seven sections directly address the proposed U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement: 

- Section 6 (page 5) entitled: "Consult and Negotiate with the Consejos Comunitarios Rather Than Ignore Them"

- Section 7 (page 6) entitled: "New Laws of President Uribe will Gut Territorial Rights of Indigenous & Afro-Colombians"

- Section 8 (page 6) entitled: "Yes to Diverse Polyculture Organic Food Crops! No to Monoculture African Palm Oil Plantations!"

- Section 9 (page 7) entitled: "Yes to Local Community Based Mining; No to Multinational Corporation Mineral Mining"

- Section 10 (page 7) entitled: "Mega-Projects & the Pacific Rim"

- Section 11 (page 8) entitled: "We Have Our Own Development Plans. Work With Us to Implement Them."

- Section 12 (page 8) entitled: "Yes to Trade Agreements with Community Participation! No to Colombia-US Free Trade Agreement!"

The first-hand testimonies offered in this report offer a new, inclusive framework to redesign the U.S. Colombia Trade Agreement to benefit more people - especially labor, family farmers, Afro-Colombians, and indigenous people in Colombia - while assuring a methodology that will reduce global warming instead of accelerating it (which will clearly be the case without a renegotiation). 

We look forward to your reply.


Gary L. Cozette

Program Directo, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)