Congresswoman Loretta SanchezJuly 9, 2014, Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam, today joined leading members of Congress and activists to voice her opposition to Vietnam’s human rights abuses and the country’s role in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). At a press conference in front of the Capitol, members detailed broad opposition to current TPP negotiations, including concerns about worker’s rights, fast track authority, trade imbalance and LGBT and women’s rights. Below are Rep. Sanchez’s remarks as prepared for delivery.

“I am here today to join my colleagues in expressing my serious concerns over the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, especially in terms of the possibility of yet another trade deal with the government of Vietnam. As the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam, I have been working on the ongoing human rights crisis in Vietnam, including its severe labor rights issues, for the past 18 years.”

“What I have seen in the past 18 years is that despite trade agreements and increased defense cooperation with the U.S., the Vietnamese government has refused to take any significant steps to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens. It has been eight years since Vietnam was permitted to join the World Trade Organization and granted Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status - and yet the human rights situation in Vietnam has not improved.”

Vietnam Child Labor“Currently, the people of Vietnam are forced to work in abysmal conditions and live in slums and unsanitary housing. They work 12 to 15 hours per day and get paid $70 per month on average, and many times they do not get paid at all. They have no health insurance and essentially have no rights at work. Since 1995, there have been close to 5,000 worker strikes. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor lists Vietnam as one of just four countries where there is reason to believe that garments may have been produced by forced or indentured child labor.”

“United States was founded upon the values of freedom, liberty and justice and yet we are open to continuing economic relations with counties that do not live by the same values, such as Vietnam. It is time for the Administration to prioritize human rights before economic gain. I will stress here again that the United States has made decisions in the past to ignore Vietnam’s human rights violations in exchange for economic benefits and these unfortunate decisions have only led to empty promises and further inhumane behavior by the government of Vietnam.”

“It is absolutely an honor to have Doan Trang, blogger and civil society activist and a member of the Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience (VOICE) here today. Our office has been working with VOICE for many years to empower stateless Vietnamese refugees and activists like Ms. Trang to advocate for freedom in Vietnam and oppose a TPP with Vietnam. I hope her statement will be a true testament to the danger this trade partnership poses to the people of Vietnam.”

Source: Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez