|Colombia: Open Letter To Nancy Pelosi and the US Congress|
|Written by Association of Indigenous Authorities of Northern Cauca Council|
|Thursday, 17 April 2008 07:45|
"Three years later, like us, you said no to the Colombia-US Free Trade Agreement."
Dear Representative Pelosi and Congress of the
First, we would like to express our joy and gratitude for the decision made
Little more than three years ago, on
It is important for you to know that from the moment of our carrying out the consultation to today, information on the FTA and its consequences made available to the people of
Today, in light of the decision you have made, we reiterate the relevance of that question. In spite of the barrage of propaganda in favor of the FTA and the manner in which fear was used to assure people that rejecting the FTA would be equivalent to the United States' abandoning Colombia in backwardness, those who participated in the referendum understood that quite to the contrary, approval of the FTA on these terms and under these conditions would be equivalent to pushing Colombia toward an abyss of backwardness, impoverishment, inequality, and war. We understand that the people of the
The Colombian government attempted to discredit the decision of the consultation, alleging that we do not understand the benefits of the FTA and that terrorists and other nefarious forces had manipulated the population. Our response to this disturbing and unfounded accusation is found in the text of the proclamation and in the reality of facts that speak for themselves. The position of the government is racist insofar as it still considers us primitive beings incapable of understanding and consciously deciding for ourselves. Moreover, it seriously threatens our lives and integrity by falsely claiming links with terrorists, claims that easily become death sentences in this country.
Read our arguments and see for yourselves if we can be accused of not understanding. In contrast with the Colombian government's reaction, read and respond with ideas, arguments, and substance. As we said in the proclamation calling for the consultation, we are opposed to neither free trade nor an agreement with the
Rep. Pelosi, Members of Congress, and people of the United States, three years after our proclamation and call to carry out a public referendum on the FTA, three years after our people said NO, in spite of the closing of spaces for debate and democratic decision-making, more than 60% of arable lands in Colombia remain in the hands of 15,000 families, less than 0.4% of the population of the country. This immense concentration of land is nonproductive in that the food that we consume comes from the poor, small producers; the large property owners do not produce food. Furthermore, the influx of subsidized agricultural products condemns peasants, indigenous peoples, and rural producers to ruin and hunger, as they face the impossibility of competing with less expensive products and artificially reduced prices. Free trade is making the production of crops for illicit use necessary for survival and for the attainment of basic economic resources. You are well aware that we are being displaced and forced off our lands through violence and war, which serves to open the countryside to the megaprojects of transnational corporations. This eviction has displaced 4 million of our compatriots to the cities, where they live in miserable conditions. This promotes only social and political violence and hatred, thereby perpetuating war and misery.
The agreement would place the price of life-saving medications beyond reach for the majority of
Rep. Pelosi and Members of Congress, we want a trade agreement that is actually an agreement, one that is negotiated among sectors that really represent the interests of peoples—not only among a few who act exclusively in the interests of big capital. We want an agreement that is free and not imposed unilaterally through propaganda, without debate or open and democratic consultation. We want an agreement that has real trade as its content, trade that guarantees reciprocal opportunity, so that the well-being of peoples is realized in a manner that is autonomous and sovereign and protects nature and life. The FTA that you have decided not to debate for the moment promotes displacement, legalizes injustice, condemns us to permanent war, and leaves us behind.
We celebrate the decision that you have taken, and we thank you. This means nothing more or less than respecting our lives. Receive our expression of immense gratitude to your people, and accept our invitation to understand the motives of the decision we made democratically three years ago.
Association of Indigenous Authorities of
For more information on the indigenous movement in Colombia visit: www.nasaacin.org.