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Union killings loom over U.S.-Colombia trade pact [View All]

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-13-09 03:59 PM
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Union killings loom over U.S.-Colombia trade pact
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Union killings loom over U.S.-Colombia trade pact
Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:05am EST

By Helen Popper - Analysis

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Guillermo Rivera Fuquene's widow says her husband was kidnapped, tortured and killed just because he fought for the rights of Colombian workers and opposed President Alvaro Uribe's free-market policies.

Murders of labor leaders like Rivera Fuquene prompted U.S. Democrats last year to block a free-trade deal drawn up under President George W. Bush, and human rights groups are hopeful Barack Obama's arrival at the White House will see the killings face even greater scrutiny.

"It's absurd to approve a free-trade agreement when people get kidnapped and murdered and no one does anything about it," said Rivera Fuquene's widow, Sonia Betancourt, 36, in her apartment in a working-class Bogota neighborhood.

Colombia's trade pact will not be a top priority for Obama as he wrangles with the worst financial crisis in decades and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, his administration has already indicated it wants stronger guarantees on trade union rights from Uribe, a conservative who has twinned a U.S.-backed military crackdown on leftist rebels with market-friendly economics.

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