Colombia - United States

SINTRAINAGRO acknowledges the solidarity
and commitment of the AFL-CIO


The FTA did not get through!


With 224 votes against 195, the US Congress decided last April 10 to cancel the legislative proceedings for the approval of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia. 


One of the main arguments given by the majority for opposing the FTA with Colombia was the violence against unionists and the constant trampling of labor and human rights in the country. Some weeks ago, a mission of the US labor federation AFL-CIO traveled to Colombia with the aim of visiting a number of union organizations, including the United Workers’ Federation (CUT) and SINTRAINAGRO, whose governing committee gave a documented account of the huge difficulties that its members must face to exercise their labor rights. The AFL-CIO returned to the United States with the promise of intensifying its campaign in Congress to prevent the approval of an FTA with Colombia. These efforts proved successful.


Reproduced below is a letter of acknowledgement sent by SINTRAINAGRO to the AFL-CIO:




Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores
de la Industria Agropecuaria


Bogotá, D.C., April 11, 2008



Fellow workers




Vice President


General Secretary

AFL-CIO - Washington, DC

Telephone: 202-508-6916

Fax: 202-637-5325


Dear fellow workers:


It was with great pleasure that the National Union of Agroindustry Workers (SINTRAINAGRO), an affiliate of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), received the news of the US Congress’ decision to suspend the proceedings for the approval of the United States-Colombia FTA.


The position of the majority of Congress was based on the need to demand that the Colombian government assume a greater commitment and deliver genuine results in terms of respecting human rights and the lives of unionists, as well as of observing the right to unionize, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. This decision would not have been possible without the invaluable solidarity of American labor, who together with the United Workers’ Federation (CUT), have led the opposition to the FTA.


SINTRAINAGRO has unconditionally supported and continues to support all the actions necessary to ensure that the Free Trade Agreement with the United States does not become an instrument of privilege in the hands of transnational corporations and major economic and industrial groups, because if in the United States working conditions are undergoing increasing casualization, in Colombia they are undergoing increasing pauperization, as unemployment and the displacement of agricultural workers continue to grow.


SINTRAINAGRO has been the victim of a governmental strategy deployed by the Ministry of Social Protection, who manifestly allied with floriculture businesses, has prevented the establishment of labor subcommittees, refusing them legal recognition and, as a result, allowing these companies to freely fire workers and union leaders.


For all of the above, and on behalf of our membership of 20,000 agriculture workers, the Subcommittees and the National Board, we again express our great appreciation to the AFL-CIO for its efforts and commitment with our struggle against the FTA.


Sincerely yours,




    GUILLERMO RIVERA                                                       ADELA TORRES

     National President                                                     General Secretary



With copy to: General and Regional Secretary of the IUF, United Workers’ Federation (CUT), National Agro-Food Union of Colombia (UNAC), National and International Labor Movement, Ministry of Social Protection.



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