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Abstract

While Colombian labor has been loathe to the country’s recent consideration of a series of free trade agreements (FTAs), paradoxically debates surrounding the recently approved US-Colombia FTA have spawned greater security for unions and have attracted a global panoptic gaze with a capacity to protect and promote labor rights. But is too early to determine whether that capacity of liberation associated with global connectivity can translate into the establishment of human security for Colombian labor, the most besieged on the planet, from the wave of depletion it has endured since the 1990s. Between 2005 and 2010, 55 percent of all assassinations of trade unionists globally occurred in Colombia. We shall begin with an historical overview from which to consider the current plight of Colombian labor, and will then focus on pivotal events since the 1990s. Concentric spaces between classical realism, neo-Gramscian approaches, and Foucauldian thought are enlightening when analyzing both historical trends and future prospects. This piece will focus on unions in Colombia’s petroleum sector, which historically have been a flagship for the country’s labor movement, and which have attracted added significance in the context of the current global commodity boom.

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