A recent report claims that after the Clinton Foundation received millions of dollars in donations from the head of a Colombian oil company, the State Department under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, agreed to support a free trade agreement with Colombia in 2011, overlooking the same ongoing labor rights violations Clinton pledged to stop in 2008.
According to a report from International Business Times, at the same time that Clinton’s State Department was condemning human rights violations in Colombia, the Clinton family was also “forging a financial relationship” with the extensive petroleum company Pacific Rubiales, which is “at the center of Colombia’s labor strife.”
In April 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported that Clinton pledged to defeat a controversial free trade agreement between the US and Colombia, saying that it was bad for labor rights.
“As I have said for months, I oppose the deal,” Clinton said. “I have spoken out against the deal, I will vote against the deal, and I will do everything I can to urge the Congress to reject the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.”
However, by 2010, Clinton had completely changed her stance on the agreement. The report from IBT attributes this change to the fact that millions of dollars from Pacific Rubiales, supplemented by the company’s founder, Canadian financier Frank Giustra, were donated to the Clinton Foundation.
In January 2008, the New York Times reported that after securing a major uranium mining deal in Kazakhstan, Giustra gave $31.3 million to the Clinton Foundation, followed by a pledge of $100 million. According to the Times, this donation secured Giustra’s spot in Clinton’s “inner circle.”
In June 2010, Investor’s Business Daily noted that Clinton seemed to have a change of heart towards the free trade agreement, and was now promoting it, saying that the deal is “strongly in the interests” of both the US and Colombia.
“First, let me underscore President Obama’s and my commitment to the Free Trade Agreement,” Clinton said. “We are going to continue to work to obtain the votes in the Congress to be able to pass it. We think it’s strongly in the interests of both Colombia and the United States.“
In Feb. 2014, three Colombian labor activists claimed that they were imprisoned over a lawsuit against Pacific Rubiales, regarding protests that occurred in 2011, when thousands of members of Union Sindical Obrero in Puerto Gaitan, Meta, “went on strike in opposition to inadequate living conditions and unfair labor practices at the hands of Pacific Rubiales.”
According to Colombia Reports, the international president of the United Steelworkers Union, Leo W. Gerard, wrote a letter to Clinton in Nov. 2011, asking her to protect Colombian union leaders, after the family of Juan Carlos Galvis, an executive committee member of the Sinaltrainal workers union, was attacked in their home.
The report from IBT noted that instead of responding to the Union leaders, Clinton’s State Department “publicly praised Colombia’s progress on human rights,” which led to the deposit of “hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid” into the Colombian military that labor activists were accusing of helping “intimidate workers” into working in inhumane conditions.