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O'Sullivan, Maureen

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Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru

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Motions\Environment\Waste management\regulations

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Motions\Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru

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Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru\Motion
Environment\Waste management\regulations
Motions\Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru
Motions\Environment\regulations\Waste management

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Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru

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Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan

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Maureen O'Sullivan

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Snippet Contents:

In 2010, President Michael D. Higgins, then a Deputy, made a powerful intervention about the economic partnership agreements with African countries because they were threatening the lives of millions of African people, and we something similar here today with what is being proposed.
Over the past four to six years, individually and through the foreign affairs committee, I have met Colombian farmers, trade unionists and women community leaders, many linked to the Patriotic March. We met Judge Vargas, who is Vice President of the Constitutional Court of Colombia, and Dr. Lozano, and the concerns were all the same, namely, the forced displacement, the evictions, the imprisonment, the torture, the assassinations and the murder. This FTA will exacerbate that further.
We have the figures. We know that Colombia is the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist. We know the numbers of trade unionists, farmers and community leaders who are in jail, including Huber Ballesteros. Their crime was speaking out on behalf of their communities for violations of the human rights of those communities. Those rights are the right to cultivate land, the right to look for better conditions, better money for their crops, and the right to meet and protest. We will have a pathetic one hour and 15 minute debate on this FTA, an agreement that should not be ratified because it is not protecting the workers, the poor and the rural Colombian and Peruvian communities.
I will give the House some examples. There has been massive expansion in the port of Buenaventura but tens of thousands of farmers were forced off their land outside the city to make way for the corporations. The port has been described as a place of misery and fear for mainly Afro-Colombian workers. There has been massive destruction of farmland for oil exploration in Putumayo and the protesting farmers and trade unions have been abducted, tortured and shot. The farmer protests in Catatumbo claimed many lives. In the hamlets of San Luis Arriba and Corinto, the peasants mobilised against plans to build a new military base on their land. The farming community in Pitalito, which has fertile land and water, were displaced, brought back and displaced again, all with the support of the Colombian army. That was done because the land was needed by a few major farmers in the area to cultivate palm trees for biofuels. This continues in spite of the land restitution law and the victims law. Last September was called Black September in Colombia when there were over 150 death threats against human rights, farmers, journalists, etc.
When the Colombian women I met were forced off their land, they made the point that on the land they had the ability to grow food for themselves and their communities. They were forced off the land into shanties in the towns and cities where they had to try to get money to buy food, which they had been producing. We know that it is through land, particularly smallholder agriculture, that the best hope for the future lies in terms of reducing poverty within those communities.