Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement - It's ba-a-ack

First some twaddle from Steve, in which he tries to spin signing an agreement with the criminal regime with the worst human rights record in the western hemisphere as striking a blow against "protectionism" :

PM calls on Parliament to pass Colombia free-trade pact

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper called on Parliament to pass Canada's free-trade agreement with Colombia, saying Wednesday it would "send a clear message" to Washington and around the world about the risks of protectionism.

He said Buy America sentiment growing in the U.S. Congress, as well as some states and municipalities south of the border, is of particular concern to Canada.

"It is the right thing to do for Canada, to do for Colombia, and the right thing to do for the global economy," he told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday alongside Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Never mind that Colombia Senator Robeldo told the International Trade Committee on March 26 of this year that signing the CanCol FTA will effectively "absolve, pardon, and reward" Uribe for his support of human rights abuses and will condemn Colombia to even lower labour standards than they already have in order to compete with influx of subsidized Canadian foodstuffs, resulting in local farmers being unable to compete and losing their land.

Instead, via Canuck Media Monitor, a little Canada-Colombia history from Yves Engler's The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy :

"In 1997, Ottawa initiated a re-write of Colombia's mining code.
CIDA worked on it with a Colombian law firm and the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI). The proposals became law in 2001 and offered a familiar list of goodies to mining corporations: the weakening of environmental and labor laws, reduced royalties paid to the government, tax exemptions, and added years to mining concessions.

In the resource sector, the link between profiteering and massive human rights abuses, especially forced displacement, is very obvious. Colombia's population of internally displaced persons (3 million as of 2008) is second only to that of Sudan. Engler described how two Canadian companies, BFC Construction and Agra-Monenco, contributed to human rights violations in northeastern Colombia:

"With $18.2 million from EDC [Export Development Canada] the companies' Urra dam submerged over 7,400 hectares, including old-growth forest as well as thelands and homes of 411 families, all of whom were without individual legal land titles, only having collective indigenous land rights.
About 2,800 people were forcibly resettled to make way for the Canadian companies' project and a further 70,000 people were directly impacted.
Predictably the community resisted the dam. According to Amnesty International, six indigenous people protesting the project were killed and ten additional members of the community were disappeared by paramilitary and guerrilla forces."

Well, at least Colombia can't be accused of a history of indulging in "protectionism".

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