By Read Trammel
The Advocacy Committee looks forward to the upcoming legislative session that promises to offer many opportunities for us to educate the public about immigration, mining, and free trade policy while promoting human rights, economic justice, and lasting peace in Latin America.
Since February, the Advocacy Committee has petitioned members of the Colorado congressional delegation to sign a letter encouraging Mexico to strengthen its rule of law and to protect the rights of all of its people in the face of rising human rights violations within that country. We petitioned President Obama to support El Salvador in the lawsuits brought by the Pacific Rim Mining Company and Commerce Group Corporation against that country. We also asked him to initiate a process of renegotiating CAFTA-DR, including replacing the foreign investor provisions with democratic, transparent, and strictly limited mechanisms that will protect the environment and human rights. The Advocacy Committee worked against new Free Trade Agreements in Colombia and Panama. The committee organized a call-in day, during which our members contacted the Colorado delegation and expressed DJPC’s opposition to these plans, which are not just harmful to the U.S. economy, but they also aggravate problems with union violence in Colombia and the use of Panama as a tax haven by corporations. We also continued to follow the ongoing human rights violations in Honduras. In June, the committee urged the Colorado delegation to sign a Dear Colleague letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requesting that she put pressure on the Honduran government to protect its people from violence. The Advocacy Committee was excited that Colorado Representative Jared Polis added his name to the list of those standing in solidarity with the Honduran people when he signed that letter.
The Advocacy Committee anticipates additional work on several more issues this summer. We will continue to monitor the volatile situation in Honduras and give voice to the marginal groups in Panama and Colombia that will be the most impacted by the free trade agreements. The committee will work to support the DREAM Act, which has been reintroduced to Congress. While we are encouraged that Colorado Senators Michael Bennett and Mark Udall have signed on as cosponsors to this important piece of legislation, we cannot allow it to fail again. The Advocacy Committee will build a coalition with other likeminded organizations in order to create a grassroots effort to push for the bill’s passage. We will also add DJPC’s voice to the growing debate about immigration reform to ensure that any such reform does not come at the expense of justice for the people of Latin America.
As these issues develop and others arise, the Advocacy Committee will continue to promote the interests of the people of Latin America. Although progress may be slow in this era of divided government, we remain hopeful that the Denver Justice and Peace Committee can positively impact the lives of Latin Americans on the local level where they live and work.