Buenaventura, Colombia: Where Free Trade Meets Mass Graves

by Kelly Nicholls and Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli
from NACLA Report

In April, President Obama and Juan Manuel Santos, the president of Colombia, reinitiated discussions on establishing a free trade agreement. The United States–Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA), as it is officially called, was signed in November 2006 but has been on hold in the U.S. Congress because of grave concerns about Colombia’s labor and human rights record, the worst in the Western Hemisphere. If the agreement is implemented by the end of the year, as officials in both countries are hoping, the city of Buenaventura will be one of the most directly affected places in Colombia.

Situated along the Pacific Coast, it is home to Colombia’s principal port, with about half of the country’s national products passing through its harbors. Some 300 other ports worldwide are connected to Buenaventura, which generates about $1 million annually in Colombian tax revenues. Expansion projects are already under way in anticipation of the increased trade that the agreement will generate.

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