Obama to Meet with President Uribe: Will he Meet with Grassroots Leaders, Too?

When now President Obama first ran for Senate, he promised CRLN that he would go to Colombia and meet with grassroots Afro-Colombian and Human Rights organizations. After elected as Senator, CRLN offered him repeated opportunities to meet with human rights defenders and Afro-Colombian leaders on their visits to Washington. Despite his original promise, he never did so. 

 

On Monday afternoon, President Obama will meet for the first official time with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. CRLN appreciates his openness to meet with leaders all over the world to foster more positive and effective relationships.  However, now that he has committed to meeting with Colombian President Uribe, we ask that he also follow through on his promise to meet with civil society and human rights leaders in Colombia.  We are sure that the story he will hear from Mr. Uribe on Monday will be very different from the stories that grassroots human rights defenders might share with him. 

CRLN is grateful that President Obama has spoken out about violence against trade unionists in the past.  In last fall's presidential debates, he argued that we must use the pending trade agreement with Colombia to stand for human rights and to stop violence against trade unionists. According to the National Labor School in Colombia, 49 trade unionists were murdered in 2008. Now that Mr. Obama is president, he can-and must-insist that the Colombian government actively work to end this senseless violence and bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice before any comprehensive, bilateral trade agreement is even considered.  We ask him stand with the victims of Colombia's decades-long armed conflict by ensuring more assistance for displaced people and refugees; and urge him to demand that the Uribe Administration stop the army's killing of civilians once and for all.

 

We need you to email President Obama today to pressure him to take a strong public stand in support of human rights and victims of violence in Colombia--and to live up to his promise that violence against trade unionists will be a central issue while considering the FTA.  CRLN asks that, in addition, you add your own personal message to this email, urging him to fulfill his original Senate campaign pledge to meet personally with grassroots human rights defenders and Afro-Colombian organizations.

 

Thank you for your commitment to human rights in Latin America!  With all of our messages together, we could make a difference in the outcome of this meeting. Please send your email today!