Witness For Peace speaker at Westminster House on Monday October 21 at 7PM
Jhon Jairo will share his experience as an Afro-Colombian labor leader in one of the deadliest countries in the world to exercise labor rights, where he has worked as a longshoreman for eleven years, leading various actions for just working conditions in Colombia’s principal port city of Buenaventura. Jhon Jairo, Julia Duranti from the Colombia International Team, and Amy Truax of Witness for Peace NW will be traveling to Corvallis this weekend.
A voice from the port through which 60 percent of Colombian imports and exports pass is especially significant in the wake of the approval of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Jhon Jairo will share what privatization and free trade have meant for Buenaventura’s Afro-Colombian community, who make up nearly 90% of the city’s population. While these policies serve to increase economic activity and the value of the port, they do nothing to distribute the benefits of the profitable shipping industry or the millions that flow daily through the port. According to the Washington Office on Latin America, “[Of] the city’s 375,000 residents, about one third are unemployed and 80% live in poverty. Sixty-five percent of Buenaventura’s households do not have a sewage system, and 45% do not have potable water. Life expectancy in Buenaventura is 51, compared with the national average of 62.”