Colombia: Will the Unions Criticize Uribe’s Action?

By May 14, 2008Labor Unions, Trade

To repeat the claim from the UNITE HERE news release announcing a rally of U.S. labor activists and Colombia union activists.

More than 2,500 workers have been murdered by Colombian death squads for trying to form unions since the 1980s, and there have been more than 400 murders since President Uribe took office five years ago. Yet the Colombian government has done nothing to effectively stop death squads from murdering workers for trying to form unions.

From The Miami Herald:

CARACAS — The surprise move by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to authorize the extradition of 14 notorious paramilitary warlords early Tuesday morning to the United States won applause from the Bush administration and was expected to raise his sky-high popularity in Colombia even higher.

But many people fear that sending the men to the United States to be tried on cocaine-trafficking charges will keep victims’ families from receiving any of the promised reparations from the paramilitary leaders.

In a nationwide television address, Uribe said that he agreed to the extradition because the paramilitary leaders had been continuing their criminal activities behind bars and had failed to make restitution.

”The country has been generous with them, but the government can’t tolerate a relapse into crime,” Uribe said.

The extraditions follow the transfer of a major paramilitary warlord last week.

And from today’s Wall Street Journal’s opinion page:

Illegal gangs and paramilitary groups remain a problem in the Colombian countryside, a legacy of the state’s long failure to stop FARC depredations. Mr. Uribe has done more to reduce violence, from both right and left, than any president in modern Colombian history. He views the free-trade pact with the U.S. as a chance to continue that progress by connecting his country to the global economy to raise living standards. Yesterday’s extradition is further proof of his efforts to see that justice is done – and of his goodwill toward the U.S.

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