Colombia FTA Opponents Continue The Attack

Opponents of the Colombian Free Trade Agreement aren't resting on their laurels.

Despite the fact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) effectively stalled the trade pact, its opponents are working hard to make sure it doesn't resurface.

A number of the agreement's fiercest foes held a press conference today to highlight Colombia's continued violence against labor leaders. Supporters of the pact contend the country has made great strides toward reducing violence and impunity.

At the rally were several Colombia union members, and representatives from American unions. The Colombia unionists have other meetings with lawmakers and U.S. labor groups scheduled this week including the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters.

"The Bush administration shows complete disregard for the views of American people by promoting a trade agenda that has been a boon for big business at the expense of working families and their jobs. Furthermore, the Colombia FTA rewards a country whose record of violence against union organizers is nothing short of disgraceful," Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) said at the event, according to a statement.

"The administration is pushing an agenda under the guise of national security in order to promote its own special interests."

Update: The unions and their Hill allies may have reason to be worried. The Colombian government has agreed to extradite 14 former paramilitary leaders to the United States, where they'll face charges including drug-trafficking.

When asked what it could mean for the trade pact's fate, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called it "a very positive development."

"It is certainly helpful," he said, but added that there's been no new movement on scheduling a floor vote for the agreement.

Daniel W. Reilly contributed to this story.