On Tuesday May 22, 2012, in the
Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, many multinational corporations, Colombian
monopolios, and various ministers from President Santos’
government met at a Conference to confirm that Colombia is continuing
on the path it started in the 1990’s: to give up its natural
resources, forgo its internal markets and food sovereignty, and offer
up its cheap labor force to guarantee the continuing enlargement of
the coffers of the powerful economies of the continent.
This is the continuation of a
neoliberal model that has brought so much poverty to Colombia (the
third most unequal country in the world), Mexico, and Central
America, and that has imperiled the economies of Europe and caused
the economic crisis of the US, the only superpower on the planet.
The government policies of the last 20
years have been characterized by their tendency to facilitate the
opening up of huge utilities for foreigners. Through 2009 the
government has handed over 7,994 mining titles, covering an area of
4, 307,000 hectares, set up a system of association with a rate of 60
to 70% foreign control, low taxes and too little royalties for big
oil and mining companies.
The privatization and sale of national
patrimony initiated by these governments at miserable prices has
pleased huge, powerful corporations, as verified by the Empresa de
Energia de Bogota dominated by the Spanish multinational Endesa.
A work day from 6am to 10pm, the right
to associate and the right to collective bargaining are negated.
Assassination of trade unionists is permissible with impunity.
Already 3,000 victims and the destruction of trade unions, all of
these lead to a positive environment for investors. Among those who
have taken advantage are the Enterprise Antioquia’s Group, the
Group Aval owned by the Luis Carlos Sarmiento Group, and Group Exito
under control of French Groupe Casino.
The oil company Pacific Rubiales Energy
has faced the resistance of workers, who a year ago went on strike in
a fight for their rights: to have a union, labor stability, to work
only 21 continuous days not 59, to get paid 7 days to rest, that they
have a copy of their contract, and that the pay stubs show total
wages paid, the days put in by the worker and the overtime.^^Meta
Petroleum, the enterprise that manages the fields of Pacific Rubiales
has 12,644 workers and only recognizes 535. The rest (12,109) are
hired by a third agency.
The Canadian company Rubiales, in the
last few months of this year, laid off 5,000 workers for daring to
claim minimal demands in accordance with the law. The company had
support from the Colombian government during the strike and laid
offs. The multinational Minister of Mines and the oil company of
Rubiales will spoke at the panel: “Colombia the Oil Country.”
This situation demonstrates that the
Labor Action Plan of Presidents Obama and Santos was nothing but a
farce, intended only to win the approval of the US-Colombia Free
Trade Agreement (Colombia FTA).
Daniel Aguirre founder and secretary of
the National Trade Union of Sugar Cane Cutters, father of three
children 4, 12, and 16 years of age, was assassinated on April 27.
Daniel was the leader that proposed that the great plantations and
companies recognize their workers not the cooperatives of associated
His principal demand was to modify the
model of contracts that exist, in which the cooperatives of
associated work contract thousands of workers, freeing the sugar cane
companies of their responsibilities with the workers.
The Colombian monopolies were also well
represented at this conference. The first panel "Infrastructure
Development for Global Competitiveness," included Gropo Argos,
part of the program called Clean Mechanisms for Development. The
purpose of this program is to allow participation in the market of
sales of bonds for the capture of carbon dioxide within an
international sphere. This program is proposed by the United Nations.
In order to participate in Clean
Mechanism for Development, onehas to accept ethical codes based on
human rights. The problem is that the Argos Group’s ethical
history is marked by the illegitimate purchase of 12,500 hectareas in
the area called de Montes de Maria, at miserly prices, in a zone in
which the paramilitares intimidated the people in the 1990’s.
The FTA is the continuation of the
economic model imposed since the 1990’s, that caused the
collapse of the agricultural economy to the point that 9 million tons
of foodstuffs was imported, destroying almost all Colombian
agriculture. But the Free Trade Agreement with the US will be the end
of the entire agricultural sector. The peasants will continue to be
motivated to grow illegal crops, the drug traffickers and the actors
in the armed conflict will flourish, and the streets of the U.S.
cities will continue to be flooded with cocaine.
Colombia will be forced to buy wheat,
barley, corn, rice, and potatoes from the United States. The
Colombian producers will have to compete with the largest
agricultural, industrial, financial monopolies of this planet but not
based on equal conditions. ^^At the same time Colombia has to give up
any means of economic protection, the U.S. will continue to enjoy
multi-million dollar subsidies and internal assistance that will
allow their big producers to sell their merchandise at low prices.
No economic Colombian sector is able to
compete the U.S. agriculture and industry. The supposed market of 300
million people will not fit a cup of coffee, or in one rose, or in
one more banana.
As soon as the implementation of the
FTA with the United States begins, the leaders in Colombia will not
be able to take any measures that will affect the U.S. enterprises’
expectation of profits. These thing are considered as an
“unjustified obstacle to commerce.”Corporations will gain
the ability to demand arbitration by the World Bank, controlled by
the United States.
If Colombian leaders enact a law that
will benefit domestic industries, or a law in defense of workers, or
a law in defense of the environment or health, the American company
has the right to take these disputes to the international tribunal.
The FTA supercedes domestic Colombian law and the National
Constitution of Colombia.
The people of Colombia are little by
little coming to understand the causes of their misfortune, The
opposition exists and grows in Colombia and the United States, and in
any corner of the planet.
Our agenda is with the working people,
the national producers from cities and the countryside that urgently
develop the national economy to the benefit of the majority of the
population to stop Colombia from becoming a colonial economy in
service to multinationals.