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No More Broken Hearts

"No More Broken Hearts: No to the Colombia Free Trade Agreement" (Credit: Brandon Wu)

Eight-foot-tall concrete hearts began to appear around Washington D.C.'s pedestrian-heavy streets in September, bearing messages about Colombia.  The Colombian government, along with private sources, funded the $800,000 public relations campaign, subtitled "Get to Know Colombia Through Its Heart." While outwardly an attempt to boost Colombia tourism, the timing, placement, and messages of the hearts conveyed a deeper interest: pushing forward the stalled U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement.  The heart statues, concentrated along Congressional staffers' daily walk between the metro and Capitol Hill, appeared just as the U.S. Congress entered its fall session.  Several of the hearts bore messages identifying Colombia as a "strategic trading partner" and highlighting the opportunity for U.S. agricultural exports to Colombia, messages that would not appear to be aimed at would-be visitors to Colombia's beaches or forests. 

To counter this thinly-veiled promotion of the notorious Colombia free trade agreement, Witness for Peace activists joined the Colombia Human Rights Committee and other DC partners in launching a "No More Broken Hearts" campaign.  Using creative street theater, public memorials, rallies, and other eye-catching tactics, we collectively seized the hearts-generated headlines to remind the public that a NAFTA-style trade agreement with Colombia would mean even more broken Colombian hearts.  Check out our news coverage from FOX, ABC, NBC, Washington City Paper, EFE, El Espectador, and this news footage from American Press and Television:

Photos: "No More Broken Hearts"

A Teamster chants against the Colombia FTA at a rally outside of the Colombia heart display near Capitol Hill.  (Credit: Brandon Wu)

In an act of creative street theater, Colombia advocates stand in front of one of the heart statues and personify the corporate interests behind the Colombia FTA.  (Credit: Lacy MacAuley)

Activists march outside Union Station for fair trade and human rights in Colombia.  (Credit: Brandon Wu)

A Union Station official tells us to dismantle our makeshift memorial of human rights defenders murdered in Colombia.  The flowers and pictures of Colombia's victims adorn a heart that states, "Colombia Is a Strategic U.S. Ally and Trading Partner."  (Credit: Brandon Wu)

Univision interviews Ben Beachy, WFP-MA regional organizer, on why so many in the U.S. and Colombia oppose the Colombia free trade agreement.  (Credit: Vrinda Manglik)

D.C. activists gather to transform a public relations heart statue into a memorial for Colombia's broken hearts: thousands of displaced and murdered campesinos, indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, unionists, and human rights defenders.  (Credit: Vrinda Manglik)

James Ploeser, of partner organization Global Trade Watch, leads Colombia advocates in chanting against the expansion of NAFTA to Colombia.  (Credit: Brandon Wu)