Colombian labor rights leader to speak at WWU, Oct. 9

A Colombian labor rights organizer will be the featured speaker during a free presentation from noon to 1:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9, in the Fairhaven College auditorium at Western Washington University.

Jhon Jairo Castro, president of the Buenaventura chapter of the Portworkers Union in Colombia, will present “No Longer Shackled by Chains but by our Economic Conditions: The Struggle for Trade, Labor and Racial Justice in Colombia’s Ports,” which is part of Fairhaven College’s World Issues Forum.

Castro, who has worked as a longshoreman and labor rights organizer for more than 11 years and led various actions in Colombia’s principle port city of Buenaventura, will discuss his experience as an Afro-Colombian labor leader in one of the deadliest countries in the world to exercise labor rights.

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, forum organizers said.

Castro will share what privatization and free trade have meant for Buenaventura’s Afro-Colombian community, who make up nearly 90 percent of the city’s population.

For more information, visit www.wwu.edu/depts/fairhaven, or call Shirley Osterhaus at 360-650-2309.

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