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21 days to stop the ratification of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

17 April 2009 @ 0 h 00 min BST

Ignoring criticism by numerous organizations, the Harper government began the process of ratification of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement in spite of incessant violence and serious human rights violations in Colombia.

On March 26, the Harper government presented the CC-FTA in the House of Commons to begin the process of ratification, at the same time as it presented the Law. Canadian representatives have 21 days to open a debate that could stop the ratification.

SOS-Colombia calls a mobilization to demonstrate to the Canadian government that we do not want to be accomplices to the regime of terror that exists in Colombia in the name of the economy!

The CC-FTA seeks to absolve the Colombian government of its human rights violations and by way of this absolution, pressure the US to sign an FTA with Colombia.

The CC-FTA will do tremendous damage to the Colombian economy, food security, the population, and to fragile, irreplaceable ecosystems.

All organizations and people who have mobilized against the CC-FTA now have the chance to act together to persuade Canadian parliamentarians to not ratify this insidious treaty against the interests of the people of Colombia.

Urgent Action:

Write to your MPs: sample letters follow.

SOS-Colombia is a coalition of Canadian organizations including: the Comité para los Derechos Humanos en America latina (CDHAL), el Proyecto Acompañamiento y Solidaridad Colombia (PASC), Desarrollo y Paz, la Asociación autónoma de jóvenes (RAJ) de Sherbrooke, Acción y Solidaridad por Colombia (ASOCOLOM) y la Red Quebequense para la Integración Continental (RQIC)[1].


[City] [date]

Message sent to the following Canadian Members of Parliament:
* Find it here : http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/index.asp?Language=E

With a copy to the following party leaders:
* Stephen Harper, HarpeS@parl.gc.ca, Prime Minister of Canada, Leader of the Conservative Party
* Michael Ignatieff, ignatm@parl.gc.ca, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
* Jack Layton, laytoj@parl.gc.ca, Leader of the New Democratic Party, NPD
* Gilles Duceppe, DucepG@parl.gc.ca, Leader of the Bloc Québécois

And a copy to:
* CDHAL: info@cdhal.org

Member of Parliament,

Allow me to call to your attention something that has been of great concern to us, and also to present some important information regarding this matter.

As you are aware, the Conservative government presented the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement to Parliament on March 26, 2009 for ratification, though many Colombian and Canadian organizations have been opposing the deal for some time. The New Democratic Party (NDP), the Bloc Quebecois, and several Liberal Members of Parliament oppose this deal as well. In response, the Harper government has claimed that this deal would help both the Canadian and Colombian economies as well as require the Colombian government to improve the human rights situation in Colombia.

We would like to express our disagreement with the arguments put forward by the Harper government, in the light of the following information:

Numerous studies have shown that signing the Canada-Colombian FTA would have dramatic consequences on work conditions in Colombia and Canada, and jeopardize fundamental collective rights recognized by Canadian democracy, without demonstrating any economic benefit. Also, the FTA—which amply favours Canadian mining companies, who have not always followed accepted social and environmental regulations—would result in a worsened balance of environmental and human concerns.

To sign this deal would not only make Canada complicit in the innumerable crimes committed by the Colombian government, which crimes have been denounced by the United Nations and the Interamerican Court of Human Right; it would also fail to recognize the work that has been done to defend human rights, to which an important part of the Canadian community has committed itself.

How is it possible to discuss improving the human rights situation in Colombia when the report published by Amnesty International on October 28th, 2008 indicates that 1400 civilians were murdered in 2007, and 1300 murdered in 2006? During the first part of 2008, close to 270,000 people were forcibly displaced, which is equal to a 40% increase compared to the same period in 2007. There are serious indications that discredit the process of paramilitary demobilization and lead to two conclusions: paramilitary forces continue to threaten and assassinate innocent people and almost all of their crimes remain unpunished.

At the end of 2008, the scandal of extrajudicial executions took place (or “false positives”): the army systematically murdered civilians for the purpose of inflating the numbers of the victories gained in anti-guerrilla warfare, a scandal that has lead to the Alvaro Uribe Vélez government’s legitimacy to be seriously questioned. During the last two presidential terms, at least 1200 defenceless civilians have been assassinated, which deaths have then been reported as “killed in action.”

And these are only a few of the innumerable examples.

It is important to note that the Congress of the United States rejected the ratification of a FTA similar to the one presented to the Parliament of Canada, given the deplorable situation of the government of Colombia in the matter of human rights violations.

We believe that in the course of the last few years, Canada has been losing its international reputation and its tradition as a leader in the defense of human rights. For this reason, it is vitally important for Canada to follow the example of the government of the United States and reject the ratification of the Canada-Colombia FTA.

Accordingly, we ask that you give the greatest attention to the situation that prevails at the moment in Colombia and to actively denounce the Free Trade Agreement in Parliament, and oppose its ratification.

We trust that you will represent your electorate and the consensus of Canadians with dignity, opposing the ratification of the FTA, which will likely occur in the following weeks. We would appreciate any correspondence from you informing us about your position and any actions that you will undertake after receiving this request.

Cordially yours,

Organization, signature

Contact person : Sos Colombie (pda_can_mtl@yahoo.ca)


17 April 2009
0 h 00 min
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