Once Again, Government Paramilitarism Attacks Unionization in the Region
(Translated by Stacey Schlau, a CSN Translator)
The United Central Organization of CUT Santander Workers, Unions, and Popular and Human Rights Organizations denounce to both oral and written mass media, civil and military authorities, and the public in general, the abuse that the compañera MARTHA CECILIA DIAZ SUAREZ, president of the union organization ASTDEMP DEPARTAMENTAL and of the board of directors of Bucaramanga, suffered.
This morning, August 15, 2006, at approximately 5:30 am, she was surrounded by unknown persons who drove a private car with the license plate LAI 795, and who, after intimidating her by saying that they had taken her daughter and showing her a photo of her, forced her to get into the car and took her to a spot on the bypass road, where they insulted her, called her subversive, and said all kinds of terrible things to her, asking her about the compañeros DAVID FLOREZ y CESAR PLAZAS, president and treasurer of the board of directors. They also beat her brutally, demanding that she fight and defend herself, since she is so "quick to protest like a man." They also showed her photos of her daughter, whom they asserted they had assassinated. These photos were taken as she participated in legal demonstrations such as the ICBF, which took place in the GARCIA ROVIRA park, facing the Government building of Santander, and the protest against the PLEBISCITE about injustices toward workers that we organized in the CUT in the LUIS CARLOS GALAN plaza facing the PALACE OF JUSTICE the week before. This protest was repressed by public armed forces, who acted together: ESMAD, National Police, Army, and a group of "reinserted" Paramilitary operatives. We clearly denounce today, as we always have, the practice that government agencies have of taking secret photographs and films, which wind up in the hands of those who fight the physical well-being of MARTHA.
The compañera has hemotomas in both eyes, they pushed her upper jaw to the left, and they shot her twice, brushing the abdomen, which left gunshot residue on her blouse. A
complaint was filed in the public prosecutor¹s office.
The compañera has repeatedly been a victim of persecution and this is not the first case of physical aggression and threats. Previously, she was beaten and threatened on her trip to the township of Mesa de Los Santos, for a meeting to negotiate the list of petitions with the mayor of that municipality.
The previous week complaints were filed in the public Defender¹s office about threats on the cell phone and being followed by someone who drives a motorcycle with license plates FER 60 D.
This incident confirms that the union movement is going through a difficult period which is worsening and in which violence against Colombian workers for demanding their rights and social justice does not stop.
In Colombia, the union movement has been the victim of more than 4,000 assassinations and many thousands more have been victims of repeated and aggravated attacks on their lives, liberty, and physical well-being. 2154 have had complaints filed. In Santander, we have a list of 136 compañeras and compañeros assassinated from January 1991 to November 2005.
This incident forms part of the more than 40,000 inhuman crimes reported in Colombia in that last 30 years, crimes that have not been carried out in an isolated, marginalized, or involuntary manner. These crimes form part of a planned and designed strategy of several branches of the Colombian State, and have as their purpose the physical elimination of union leaders, gradual weakening of workers¹ organization, and repression of the exercise of union freedom.
WE DEMAND: from the President of the Republic, his Vice-President, and the Office of Human Rights of the Ministry of the Interior and of Justice, and of all authorities, that they protect the right to life and free, constitutionally-guaranteed exercise of union activity. In their hands lies the responsibility for the physical well-being of the compañera MARTHA, so that WE SEEK immediate forms of protection for our compañera MARTHA CECILIA DIAZ and her family.
Bucaramanga, August 16, 2006