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National Conference of State Legislatures Slams Pro-Colombia FTA Resolution as Colombia Presidential Advisor Linked to Paramilitaries Is Arrested

April 25, 2008  

National Conference of State Legislatures Slams Pro-Colombia FTA Resolution as Colombia Presidential Advisor Linked to Paramilitaries Is Arrested

State and Local Legislators Continue to Lead the Fight Against Failed NAFTA Status Quo Trade Policies That Undermine Their Authority to Enact Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – State legislators’ sound rejection today of a resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to approve the Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) sent another strong signal that the trade agreement has very limited support, said Public Citizen. 

The pro-Colombia FTA resolution, introduced by a Republican Florida state legislator, was resoundingly rejected by a two-to-one margin in the Labor and Economic Development committee as the Colombian ambassador observed the spring meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) today in Washington, D.C.

“That a bipartisan organization representing state legislatures so resoundingly rejects the Colombia FTA sends a loud signal that most Americans do not want to be connected with either an expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or the Colombian government’s record of horrible human rights atrocities,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division.

The vote comes as Mario Uribe, the Colombian president’s closest political advisor, was arrested on evidence of his links to right-wing paramilitaries responsible for assassinations of unionists and violent, illegal appropriations of property and forced displacements.

The Colombia FTA includes the most damaging provisions of NAFTA and the Central America Free Trade Agreement about which state legislators have become vocal. The provisions include extraordinary foreign investor protections that promote offshoring of U.S. jobs and expose domestic health and environmental laws to attack in foreign tribunals. These tribunals may award money damages to corporations challenging state laws in foreign tribunals.