Dr.Dawg

Colombia: Liberal Scott Brison's continued moral idiocy

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Colombia rights.jpg

Scott Brison loves Colombia—or, more accurately, the bloodstained regimes that have been responsible for on-going massacres of trade unionists in that narco-state. In fairness, so does his party, which last year rushed through the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement with its Conservative coalition partners.

Colombia has always been a dangerous place for trade unionists. In the period from 1987 to 2008, more than 2500 were slaughtered, and many more since then.

Under the rule of Brison’s pal Alvaro Urribe, things got worse—much worse. Impunity for paramilitary death squads became the norm. Since he took office, more trade unionists were murdered in Colombia than in the rest of the world combined.

Have things changed under his successor, Juan Manuel Santos? In a word, no. Between 3-5 million people, mostly indigenous, have been displaced. The murders continue, unabated and unpunished.

In a country that once had a strong labour movement, only 4% of the workers are now unionized. “We kill trade unionists because they interfere with people working,” said one paramilitary leader, himself assassinated by rivals in 2004. Nothing like a pacified labour force to attract foreign investors, and Brison sees opportunities galore for his corporate buddies:

We met with some members of the new cabinet, the Santos government including President Santos, and talked a lot about the kinds of investment opportunities that Canada has with Colombia. The opportunities for Canadian investors to invest in Colombia, a country that has good governance, a solid growth track in terms of its economy, good natural resources, and a dramatic need for some of the things that we do well.

Then the frosting on the cake:

Q: Have you heard much about the announcement this week about a fund named for Rémy Beauregard on the anniversary of his death, in order to help children in Colombia who were affected by armed conflict?

Brison isn’t remotely interested.

A: I haven’t heard anything about it this week, but I was with some Canadian business people this week, and one of the things I spoke of was the importance of hiring former combatants as part of Canadian investment in Colombia. I want to see Canadian companies hire former combatants who have demobilised and who have rejected and renounced violence. They’ve taken that step. We have a responsibility to try to make sure that they have legitimate economic opportunity.

“[W]ho have rejected or renounced violence,” forsooth. There’s little doubt they’ll be hired as private company goons, carrying on an ignoble Colombian tradition.

Violent strikebreaking was once a Canadian tradition as well. Inco, in fact, even hired former Nazis to break the union there in the late 1950s.* Could Brison be feeling a tad nostalgic?


*Terry Pender, “Inco used former Nazis Document details union disruption”, Winnipeg Free Press, 15 November 1993; Craig McInnes, “RCMP report vindicates ex-unionists”, Globe and Mail, 16 November 1993, A5.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr.Dawg published on January 7, 2011 8:50 PM.

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