Resolution - Calling for a New Fair Trade Model And Opposing the Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements.

Whereas, in the midst of the current economic crisis it is clear that a new U.S. trade policy is necessary, one that creates living-wage, sustainable jobs for the majority of people in the U.S. and trade partners countries while promoting democracy, human rights, labor standards, a healthy environment, and access to essential services;
Whereas, LULAC opposes the pending U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and it has in the past opposed the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement and the Central America Free Trade (CAFTA) because these pacts did not meet these goals of fair trade;
Whereas, LULAC has succeeded in bringing to national attention to how the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has not only sent millions of good-paying jobs overseas, but how its agriculture provisions have forced rural Mexicans to leave home and risk their lives crossing the U.S. border to be able to support their families, and how its foreign investor provisions threaten sovereignty and the environment by undermining Latin American nations’ control of their natural resources;
Whereas, LULAC is eager to work with President Obama and Congress to realize their campaign promises to fundamentally revision U.S. trade policy to address these longstanding concerns and to build a truly fair trade model;
Whereas, since NAFTA was enacted, 2.5 million rural Mexicans have been displaced by dumping of subsidized U.S. farm goods, contributing to a 60 percent increase in immigration to the U.S. due to loss of family-supporting economic options at home, and whereas, the Colombia and Panama FTAs will also lead to dumping of farm goods in Panama and Colombia, where much of the populations rely on agricultural livelihoods;
Whereas, the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, in a 2004 study (El Agro Colombiano Frente al TLC con Estados Unidos), found that free trade in agriculture would lead to a 35 percent increase in unemployment among Colombia’s large rural population and would force small farmers to choose between “migration to the cities or other countries… working in drug cultivation zones, or affiliating with illegal armed groups”;
Whereas, the Panamanian small farmers’ group ONAGRO, in a 2007 letter to the U.S. Congress states that, “We are certain that the FTA will cause great displacement in the Panamanian agricultural sector, on which 40 percent of our nation depends either directly or indirectly. We Panamanians do not want to have to follow the Mexicans and Central Americans in the flood of immigration to the United States, where many risk their lives trying to be able to make a living”;
Whereas, Colombia is already experiencing a displacement crisis that has surpassed that of Darfur in the Sudan to lead the world with over 4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs);
Whereas, the pending Colombia and Panama FTAs’ investment rules replicate, and in some cases even expand on the excessive investor privileges and privatized investor-state private enforcement mechanisms found in NAFTA and CAFTA;
Whereas these rules grant extraordinary protections for foreign investors which help move good-paying jobs offshore, but prevent democratically elected governments from enacting measures to regulate investment and ensure it contributes to a country’s development;
Whereas, LULAC recognizes that under such conditions, as seen with NAFTA, foreign investment fails to support the domestic economy and thus fails to elevate standards for workers or the environment, or create jobs that provide decent and sustainable employment conditions;
Whereas, in the case of Colombia, no FTA should be contemplated until and unless human rights conditions have significantly improved as demonstrated by a sustained period during which assassinations of labor, Afro-Colombian and indigenous advocates and forced displacements have halted, and the backlog of such cases has been prosecuted to address rampant impunity;
Whereas in 2009, Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world to be a unionist, with the number of murders in 2008 increasing 25% over 2007, and whereas during the current Uribe administration over 482 unionists have been murdered, one-fourth of these union leaders, with 2,571 trade unionists killed since 1986, according to Colombia’s National Labor School;
Whereas, LULAC notes with concern the ‘Para-Politics’ scandal that is rocking Colombia and links top Uribe administration officials and allied Congresspeople to paramilitary groups that kill unionists and human rights activists, which has resulted in the detention of 32 lawmakers so far;
Whereas, the National Conference of State Legislatures, as well as numerous religious denominations and development groups oppose the Colombia Free Trade Agreement;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that LULAC opposes the Colombia and Panama FTAs leftover from the administration of George W. Bush;
LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED THAT LULAC calls on President Obama and the U.S. Congress to renegotiate the texts of FTAs with Colombia and Panama, including:

  • The agricultural provisions to allow the Latin American countries to maintain policies that benefit campesino populations and keep them on their land;

  • The investment chapters to remove the investor-state private dispute resolution system

  • The labor rights provisions to clarify that rights conferred by the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Conventions and the ILO jurisprudence pertaining to the interpretation of Conventions shall apply, expanding on the labor standards improvements of May 2007;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that LULAC calls on the President and Congress to work with the Colombian government to improve labor and human rights conditions in Colombia prior to consideration of any trade pact, to set targets for measurable improvements over a sustained period including a halt to union assassinations and forced displacement of Afro-Colombians, and to provide funding and technical support to meet improvement targets;


Approved this 18th day of July 2009.

Rosa Rosales
LULAC National President