Colombian Hearts: Tourism Promotion or Trade Agreement Promotion?
You've probably seen one by now.
Colombia is Passion, a Colombian branding campaign, has created 40 outdoor statues to be placed around Washington D.C., and later New York City.
At least two are standing in Adams Morgan. Movers dropped off several in Logan Circle, and Thomas Circle. And Dupont has sprouted at least one heart (that I know of.) Union Station visitors can also check out several larger sculptures.
Supposedly, the street exhibit "tells the story of progress in Colombia, a vibrant country with the oldest democracy in Latin America. Those who still have misconceptions about Colombia will leave with a change of heart, having witnessed how Colombia has transformed in recent years," according to Colombia is Passion's press release.
But others would counter it's a kind of propaganda campaign to muster up support for the Colombia Free Trade agreement, which was passed by Colombia in 2007, but has never been approved by Congress.
Why else would these hearts be popping up in Washington D.C. during the beginning of the fall Congressional session?
"This isn’t about tourism, they’re being disingenuous," says Andrew Willis Garcés, who is part of a group called the Colombia Human Rights Network, a roughly two dozen-person coalition of Colombians and Colombian-Americans in D.C.
"It’s pretty clear that it’s linked to the trade deal," said a source with Public Citizen Global Trade Watch.
Anyway, it's protest time: An announcement circulated on "UNION CITY," a listserv, and is currently up on the AFL-CIO Washington DC Metro Council website about a rally planned for Tuesday:
MASS DEMO SET TO PROTEST COLOMBIAN UNION MURDERS: Local labor activists are hitting the streets on Capitol Hill next Tuesday to denounce the Colombian government’s involvement in the murders of workers and trade unionist in Colombia. “Colombia is still the most dangerous country to be a unionist,” says Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, which is co-sponsoring the demonstration. “Colombian death squads have murdered nearly 2,700 workers trying to forms unions in the past two decades. We must remind members of Congress of the outrageous human rights violations that still occur in Colombia, especially to union members.” The protest is co-sponsored by the International Labor Rights Forum, Witness for Peace, the TransAfrica Forum, and DC's Colombia Human Rights Committee. Click here for more information. - photo: labor and human rights activists shut down traffic in front of the White House in June to protest the murders of Colombian trade unionists; photo by Adam Wright