JULY 30 – Witness for Peace Report Back: Challenging the Status Quo in Colombia – Women’s Empowerment, Workers’ Rights and Trade Justice

There are multiple facets to fair trade work that are key to achieving economic justice in trade. Three pillars that we support are education, encouraging fair trade business and advocacy in reforming trade policy. We see the interconnectedness and importance of all three.

During our Spring film series this year, we hosted Oregon Fair Trade Campaign in a movie and discussion about farm workers and child labor in our food system to highlight how U.S. trade policy creates an unfair playing field for farmers around the world – forcing people off their land to come work our land or in factories for low wages and long hours. The impacts are local and global – traditional livelihoods and local jobs that feed our economy are lost, farming is outsourced and people and their land are exploited. Corporations and big business are the only winners.

We reached out to local international trade justice organizations, ORFTC, PCASC, Witness for Peace, to partner on an event that helps to highlight the impact of U.S. trade policy, the impact on communities and present local fair trade as an alternative economic model with more oversight and ethics that promotes trade justice.

NWFTC Member, Amy Price, just returned from a WfP Delegation to Colombia to share more about the impact of the latest FTA. She will be joined by other panelists who will share their experiences in Colombia, highlighting current issues impacting land rights, human rights, the drug trade and workers’ rights as a result of this new trade agreement.

NWFTC Chair, Sarah Mitts, owner of Awaz, will present to the community Portland’s Fair Trade Directory and how it can be used as a tool for change.
Their eco-clothing line (men’s and women’s apparel), kids toys and accessories will be available for purchase with 15% of sales donated to Red and Black. 

This is a phenomenal panel and educational opportunity – link up and help us create fair trade in Portland and take action to oppose the next big trade deal!


Witness for Peace Report Back: Challenging the Status Quo in Colombia – Women’s Empowerment, Workers’ Rights and Trade Justice


7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Red and Black Cafe

400 SE 12th Ave.

U.S. trade policy and FTAs are created specifically to serve the commercial interest of corporations and provide incentives to maximize profits at the expense of the people and environment around the world.

The impacts are as much local as they are global.

      Just last October, the US signed a trade agreement with Colombia, the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist. Hear testimonials from Colombian fair trade advocates and learn more about the next massive trade battle with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Panelists include:

Amy Price, Witness for Peace Delegate to Colombia 2012

Paige Shell-Spurling, Witness for Peace Delegate to Colombia 2012

Elizabeth Swager, Assistant Director of Oregon Fair Trade Campaign

Sarah Mitts, Chair of Northwest Fair Trade Coalition

The fight for indigenous and Afro-Colombian ancestral territory has been fueled by the recently passed FTA. Much of this land is coveted by multinational companies who are pressuring the Colombian government to grant permits to extract resources and develop plantations for palm oil, fruit, timber, and sugar. Colombia is already home to one of the highest number of internally displaced people in the world because of a 50 year long armed conflict and the war on drugs. Learn about how these communities are affected by recent trade policy and what they are doing to resist.

For the last year, ASOTRECOL, a group of workers injured from their jobs on the General Motors Colombia production line, have maintained a peaceful occupation on the sidewalk in front of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. This David vs. Goliath battle of injured workers standing up to a powerful multinational corporation has seen huge successes, weeding out corrupt labor inspectors and moving GM Colombia to take measures to prevent any more serious injuries. Learn about their courageous resistance, incredible victories and the work yet to be done.

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