This is How Hillary Does Business – An Oil Company, Human Rights Abuses in Colombia and the Clinton Foundation

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The details of these financial dealings remain murky, but this much is clear: After millions of dollars were pledged by the oil company to the Clinton Foundation — supplemented by millions more from Giustra himself — Secretary Clinton abruptly changed her position on the controversial U.S.-Colombia trade pact. Having opposed the deal as a bad one for labor rights back when she was a presidential candidate in 2008, she now promoted it, calling it “strongly in the interests of both Colombia and the United States.” The change of heart by Clinton and other Democratic leaders enabled congressional passage of a Colombia trade deal that experts say delivered big benefits to foreign investors like Giustra.

The details of her family’s entanglements in Colombia echo talk that the Clintons have blurred the lines between their private business and philanthropic interests and those of the nation. And Hillary Clinton’s connections to Pacific Rubiales and Giustra intensify recent questions about whether big donations influenced her decisions as secretary of state.

– From the International Business Daily article: As Colombian Oil Money Flowed To Clintons, State Department Took No Action To Prevent Labor Violations

Decades ago, Bill and Hillary Clinton made a conscious decision to prioritize money and power over the struggles of the poor, weak and dispossessed. The key to their success has been the ability to continue to falsely portray that the commitment to the less fortunate is the guiding principle of their lives.

The other day, I wrote about the dangerous myths people tell themselves (see: The Stock Market Myth and How the Japanese Middle Class is on the Precipice Thanks to Abenomics). For most Democrats, the myth of the Clinton family remains an unassailable tale they tell themselves to this very day, despite piles of evidence to the contrary.

As I read more and more about the Clintons in the run up to her 2016 coronation, it has become clear that the Clinton Foundation represents the clever and core vehicle used to funnel ever more money and power to the family, all the while looking charitable. It’s pretty genius actually.

Here at Liberty Blitzkrieg, we have covered several examples of how money moving into the Clinton Foundation were used to influence Hillary’s decision making when she was Secretary of State. In case you missed them:

Clinton Foundation’s Deep Financial Ties to Ukrainian Oligarch Who Pushed for Closer Ties to EU Revealed

Hillary Clinton Exposed Part 1 – How She Aggressively Lobbied for Mega Corporations as Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton Exposed Part 2 – Clinton Foundation Took Millions From Countries That Also Fund ISIS

While those articles mainly covered how donations to the Clinton Foundation may have been tied to regime change in Ukraine, crony capitalist deals, and providing cover for terrorist supporting nations, the recent article from the International Business Daily fuses both human rights abuse and corporate favoritism. All seemingly bought and paid for by a Colombian oil company.

So let’s get started with some excerpts from IBD:

For union organizers in Colombia, the dangers of their trade were intensifying. When workers at the country’s largest independent oil company staged a strike in 2011, the Colombian military rounded them up at gunpoint and threatened violence if they failed to disband, according to human rights organizations. Similar intimidation tactics against the workers, say labor leaders, amounted to an everyday feature of life.

Yet as union leaders and human rights activists conveyed these harrowing reports of violence to then-Secretary of State Clinton in late 2011, urging her to pressure the Colombian government to protect labor organizers, she responded first with silence, these organizers say. The State Department publicly praised Colombia’s progress on human rights, thereby permitting hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to flow to the same Colombian military that labor activists say helped intimidate workers.

At the same time that Clinton’s State Department was lauding Colombia’s human rights record, her family was forging a financial relationship with Pacific Rubiales, the sprawling Canadian petroleum company at the center of Colombia’s labor strife. The Clintons were also developing commercial ties with the oil giant’s founder, Canadian financier Frank Giustra, who now occupies a seat on the board of the Clinton Foundation, the family’s global philanthropic empire.

The details of these financial dealings remain murky, but this much is clear: After millions of dollars were pledged by the oil company to the Clinton Foundation — supplemented by millions more from Giustra himself — Secretary Clinton abruptly changed her position on the controversial U.S.-Colombia trade pact. Having opposed the deal as a bad one for labor rights back when she was a presidential candidate in 2008, she now promoted it, calling it “strongly in the interests of both Colombia and the United States.” The change of heart by Clinton and other Democratic leaders enabled congressional passage of a Colombia trade deal that experts say delivered big benefits to foreign investors like Giustra.

The Clinton Foundation, Giustra and the State Department did not respond to International Business Times’ requests for comment. Pacific Rubiales has denied that it has engaged in any violence toward union organizers.

The details of her family’s entanglements in Colombia echo talk that the Clintons have blurred the lines between their private business and philanthropic interests and those of the nation. And Hillary Clinton’s connections to Pacific Rubiales and Giustra intensify recent questions about whether big donations influenced her decisions as secretary of state.

Giustra and Bill Clinton reportedly first met in 2005, at a fundraiser for tsunami victims held at Giustra’s home in Canada. They quickly became jet-setting friends. That year, as Giustra was on his way to becoming one of the Clinton Foundation’s largest individual donors, an aide to Bill Clinton arranged an introduction between Giustra and the then-president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, the Wall Street Journal reported. After the meeting, Uribe moved to begin privatizing his country’s state-owned oil company, Ecopetrol. Pacific Rubiales soon expanded its operations in Colombia in partnership with Ecopetrol, which was still being overseen by Uribe.

Giustra’s connections to Pacific Rubiales proved fruitful for the Clintons when in 2007 the oil giant became one of the first donors to a venture between Giustra and Bill Clinton. In a Pacific Rubiales news release quoting Giustra, the company announced that it was joining with its financial backers to give $4.4 million to the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP).

Incorporated in Canada as a “charitable business,” CGEP says it seeks to “generate both social impact and financial returns” for investors. A majority of CGEP’s partners have connections to oil and mining industries in Colombia. Two partners have major business interests in Colombia’s palm oil industry, which human rights groups say is in part responsible for the world’s second-largest internal refugee population, after Syria.

As Giustra continued expanding his businesses in Colombia, one potential complication for Colombian investors was the prospect of Democrats nixing a proposed U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. During the 2008 presidential campaign, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton declared their unequivocal opposition to the deal, with the latter saying there should be “no trade deal with Colombia while violence against trade unionists continues in that country.” She pledged that year to “do everything I can to urge the Congress to reject the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.”

Yet within a year of becoming secretary of state, Clinton visited Colombia, saying she was there to “underscore President Obama’s and my commitment to the Free Trade Agreement.” (Obama had also changed his position on the pact.) In a 2010 interview with RCN Television, Clinton declared that she and Obama were set “to begin a very intensive effort to try to obtain the [congressional] votes to get the Free Trade Agreement finally ratified.”

Federal lawmakers ratified the pact in October 2011. Only weeks later, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sent a letter to the Obama administration citing allegations of violence at Pacific Rubiales.

In December of the same year, Clinton publicly thanked Giustra for his work when she gave the keynote address at the Giustra-backed International Crisis Group’s annual “In Pursuit of Peace” award dinner. In early 2012, CGEP was the main beneficiary of Pacific Rubiales’ golf tournament in Bogota, which raised $1 million for the Clinton-Giustra venture. Then in April 2012, the Obama administration certified Colombia as respecting labor rights, cementing the trade pact into law. That certification came at the 2012 Summit of the Americas, where Clinton met the Colombian minister of mining — Pacific Rubiales’ primary regulator in Colombia.  

“The U.S.-Colombia FTA had an investment chapter that granted extreme investor rights, and they certainly go well beyond U.S. law in regard to property rights,” St. Louis told IBTimes. She said the deal empowers corporations — and in particular natural resource corporations — to try to use international tribunals to override local opposition to their agenda.

Though Clinton has never explicitly explained her change of position on the U.S.-Colombia trade pact, she acknowledged “concerns” about Colombian “human rights abuses, violence against labor organizers, targeted assassinations, and the atrocities of right-wing paramilitary groups” in her 2014 book, “Hard Choices.” But, she asserted, “By the time I visited Bogota in June 2010, violence was down dramatically.” She said that she met up with her husband while he “was traveling through Colombia on Clinton Foundation business” and the couple “went out for dinner with friends and staff at a local steakhouse, and toasted Colombia’s progress.”

“Hard choices” indeed. On the one hand, money and power. On the other, human rights. We know which one the Clintons choose every time.

Meanwhile, here’s what that touted Colombian “progress” looked like.

Human Rights Watch reported that in the same year Clinton visited Bogota, “threats against unionists — mostly attributed to paramilitaries’ successor groups — have increased since 2007” and that “impunity in such cases is widespread.” The Colombian human rights group PASO International reported that in 2011, Pacific Rubiales “workers were forced off picket lines at gunpoint by members of the Armed Forces during [a] strike and only allowed to return to work when they had renounced the union.” In 2012, a Colombian journalist covering protests against Pacific Rubiales died after being detained by the police. A year later, a report from two Democratic members of the Congressional Monitoring Group on Labor Rights in Colombia found “murders and threats against union members and harmful subcontracting persist in Colombia largely unabated.”

But an IBTimes review of public State Department documents shows that as the Giustra-Clinton foundation relationship deepened, Hillary Clinton and the State Department never criticized or took action against the Colombian government for alleged violations of labor rights at Pacific Rubiales. Instead, Clinton’s State Department issued certifications in 200920102011 and 2012 declaring that Colombia has been complying with human rights standards that are required under federal law for continued U.S. military aid to the country.

“The Colombian government continued to make progress on improving respect for human rights, both within the Armed Forces and in Colombia at large,” the State Department declared in 2012, despite the allegations of collusion between the Colombian military and Pacific Rubiales to intimidate workers. By that time, Pacific Rubiales and its international financial partners had committed $4.4 million to the Clinton Foundation’s initiative with Giustra, and Giustra had pledged to donate more than $100 million to the joint venture.

That ladies and gentlemen is how the Clintons conduct business.

Serendipitously, as I was preparing to compose this post, I came across a fascinating article published by Counterpunch back in 2007 titled, The Making of Hillary Clinton. I strongly suggest reading the whole thing, but in a nutshell it shows how far back the Clinton’s made the choice to pursue money and power over everything else. It basically occurred in the 1970s. We learn that:

Hillary was on Mondale’s staff for the summer of ’71, investigating worker abuses in the sugarcane plantations of southern Florida, as close to slavery as anywhere in the U.S.A. Life’s ironies: Hillary raised not a cheep of protest when one of the prime plantation families, the Fanjuls, called in their chips (laid down in the form of big campaign contributions to Clinton) and insisted that Clinton tell Vice President Gore to abandon his calls for the Everglades to be restored, thus taking water Fanjul was appropriating for his operation.From 1971 on, Bill and Hillary were a political couple. In 1972, they went down to Texas and spent some months working for the McGovern campaign, swiftly becoming disillusioned with what they regarded as an exercise in futile ultraliberalism. They planned to rescue the Democratic Party from this fate by the strategy they have followed ever since: the pro-corporate, hawkish neoliberal recipes that have become institutionalized in the Democratic Leadership Council, of which Bill Clinton and Al Gore were founding members.

Hillary had an offer to become the in-house counsel of the Children’s Defense Fund and seemed set to become a high-flying public interest Washington lawyer. There was one impediment. She failed the D.C. bar exam. She passed the Arkansas bar exam. In August of 1974, she finally moved to Little Rock and married Bill in 1975 at a ceremony presided over by the Rev. Vic Nixon. They honeymooned in Acapulco with her entire family, including her two brothers’ girlfriends, all staying in the same suite.

After Bill was elected governor of Arkansas in 1976, Hillary joined the Rose Law Firm, the first woman partner in an outfit almost as old as the Republic. It was all corporate business, and the firm’s prime clients were the state’s business heavyweights ­ Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart, Jackson Stevens Investments, Worthen Bank and the timber company Weyerhaeuser, the state’s largest landowner.

Two early cases (of a total of five that Hillary actually tried) charted her course. The first concerned the successful effort of Acorn ­ a public interest group doing community organizing ­ to force the utilities to lower electric rates on residential consumers and raise on industrial users. Hillary represented the utilities in a challenge to this progressive law, the classic right-wing claim, arguing that the measure represented an unconstitutional “taking” of property rights. She carried the day for the utilities.

The second case found Hillary representing the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Arkansas in a lawsuit filed by a disabled former employee who had been denied full retirement benefits by the company. In earlier years, Hillary had worked at the Children’s Defense Fund on behalf of abused employees and disabled children. Only months earlier, while still a member of the Washington, D.C., public interest community, she had publicly ripped Joseph Califano for becoming the Coca Cola company’s public counsel. “You sold us out, you, you sold us out!” she screamed publicly at Califano. Working now for Coca Cola, Hillary prevailed.

So all of this is really business as usual for Hillary. She made her choice a long, long time ago. Not that the majority of Democrats care.

For related articles, see:

Hillary Clinton Exposed Part 1 – How She Aggressively Lobbied for Mega Corporations as Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton Exposed Part 2 – Clinton Foundation Took Millions From Countries That Also Fund ISIS

Glenn Greenwald on Hillary Clinton: “Soulless, Principle-Free, Power Hungry…”

A Tale from Post-Constitutional America – This is What Happens if You Turn Your Back on Hillary Clinton

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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