Stuck in the Past: The AFL-CIO on Colombia
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Last week the AFL-CIO launched a campaign “to try and stop the pending trade deal between the United States and Colombia,” The Hill reported.
It turns out that the AFL-CIO isn’t just using out-of-date statistics in this campaign — even the photograph in their ad published last Wednesday is more than 13 years old.
The ad, which appeared in two Capitol Hill publications, showed a grim funeral procession and the words “Colombia FTA NO.”
My colleague Reuben Smith-Vaughan contacted the photographer, Marcelo Salinas, who is based in San Francisco, California. Mr. Salinas replied that the photo chosen from his archive by the AFL-CIO shows the funeral of union activist and lawyer Eduardo Umana Mendoza on April 20, 1998.
Colombia did suffer from a terrible wave of violence in the 1990s. But the country has changed dramatically in the past 13 years, and the reduction in violence has been remarkable — especially among labor union members.
Moreover, under the Action Plan agreed by President Obama and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, additional reforms are under way to bolster worker rights and prosecute offenders in cases dating back to the violence of the 1990s.
I wrote just last week that the AFL-CIO was describing the Colombia of yesterday in its campaign. Now we have the confirmation.