Source: Citizens Trade Campaign
In an unprecedented move, President Bush sent the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement to Capitol Hill, ignoring objections of Speaker Pelosi and other congressional leaders. It was the first time in the 35-year history of the "fast-track" process that a President sought to force lawmakers to vote on a trade deal against their wishes. To reassert their Constitutional authority over trade, the House voted to stop the 90-day "fast track" time-table.
But the Colombia FTA is far from defeated. It could come up as early as this month.
Contact your representatives today, and tell them to vote down the Colombia FTA. Be sure to leave your home address and to ask for a response. Here’s how:
Contact your member of congress by phone. Call 1-866-338-5720 and ask the capitol switchboard operator to connect you to your member’s office. A handful of calls from your district can make the difference. Let them know you want them to vote down this agreement. There’s a sample script below.
Contact your member of congress by email. Both the AFL-CIO and Change to WIN have launched email campaigns opposing the Colombia FTA. To participate, click on the links above, enter your address, and send an email directly to your congressperson. You can also download a full sized poster by clicking here, and post it on a bulletin board at work, school or other public place.
Contact your member of congress over the internet. Visit www.congress.org to find out who represents you. Type in your zip code, click on representative, and go to the "contact" tab on the top right. You will be directed to a website form. Cut and paste the sample message below, personalize it, and be sure to ask for a response letter.
Subject: Vote Down the Colombia Trade Agreement
Dear Congressional Representative:
I am writing to urge you to oppose the U.S.-Colombia "Free" Trade Agreement (FTA) that the Bush Administration sent to Congress, ignoring 35 years of established practice.
This trade agreement comes at a huge cost for Americans and Colombians alike, resulting in major job loss, increased immigration, the decimation of family farmers and the destruction of the environment. This agreement is modeled off the same flawed language found in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). We can only expect more of the same problems from the Colombia FTA.
For Americans, this trade deal means less job security, decreased living standards for middle-class families, and a weaker domestic manufacturing base. For Colombians, it means more substandard wages, the destruction of their country’s biodiversity, ruined livelihoods for family farmers, and an increased pressure to emigrate.
We should not be entering a trade deal with a country that has allowed 2,500 unionists to be murdered since 1986, including more than 400 killings during the administration of President Alvaro Uribe. Seventeen trade unionists have already been murdered in Colombia as of April of 2008 – a rate of over one a week.
As a constituent, I urge you to vote down the Colombia FTA. We cannot afford more of these unfair, unbalanced trade agreements, and we should not be negotiating with a country that ignores international labor standards and dismisses assassinations of union activists.
Please publicly announce your opposition to the Colombia FTA today, and send me a letter to let me know you will vote against this flawed trade agreement.
- Not one U.S labor, environmental, faith or consumer group has endorsed the Colombia FTA. These organizations all understand American companies are closing down and setting up shop across the border to take advantage of sub-standard wages and labor laws, off shoring loopholes and lax environmental regulations.
- Colombia remains the most dangerous place in the world to advocate for worker rights. Last year thirty-nine unionists had been murdered, eleven were victims of attempted murder, and 224 received threats.
- Trade isn’t "free" when thousands are killed for standing up in the workplace, or when we destroy the most biodiverse regions on the earth. It isn’t "free" when we lose thousands of Americans jobs so corporations can pay substandard wages across the border. These prices are simply too high.
- America has the largest and most robust market in the world, and if we open it up to other countries, we should expect them to play by the same rules we do, on a level playing field.
- The Colombia FTA is modeled after much of the same flawed language found in NAFTA and CAFTA, which resulted in major job loss, environmental degradation, decimation of family farmers and increased immigration.
- New environmental laws are desperately needed in Andean countries, including Colombia, to allay rapid destruction of the upper Amazon basin, which is the most biodiverse area on the planet.
- Benjamin Franklin said the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. That is exactly what we are doing with our current trade policy.
Remember, the economy and trade exists to help people, not the other way around.