( Translated by Rolf Schoneneborn, a CSN volunteer translator )
The executive committee of the Unified Workers’ Confederation of Colombia (CUT) wants to launch protests both nationally and internationally against a press conference which took place October 18, at the Colombian ‘White House’ , the Palacio de Narino, with national media (radio, TV, and news services) in attendance. The Colombian government was represented by Diego Palacio, secretary of health and welfare, general Oscar Naranjo, head of Colombia’s national police, and Maria del Pilar Hurtado, head of the department of administrative security.
The press conference was called to announce that six warrants of arrest had been issued against militants involved in the strike of sugar cane cutters; no names, however, were given. It was announced also that two French and one German national had been deported because of their apparent active support of the strike. Secretary Diego Betancourt as well as general Naranjo made it clear that these strikes, though in keeping with the constitution and the law of the land, as well as the campaigns of civil disobedience of the Cauca indigenous communities to force the government to honor its agreements were part and parcel of the subversive plans of the FARC sixth front to destabilize the national government. Both insisted that solidarity campaigns regarding these labor conflicts and the mobilization of the indigenous communities would have to be considered criminal.
Also, the workers’ confederation very strongly disapproves of the attempts of the government to criminalize social and union struggles. This also goes for the attempts of the police and the army to actively prevent social mobilization efforts and strikes which are in accord with the Columbian constitution and international ILO-agreements (ILO- International Labor Organization) and were ratified by Colombia.
Measures such as military and intelligence gathering operations are not only used by the national government in its war on terror but also against labor unions and social organizations that dare to demand that law and constitution be respected.
We call on the national and international labor movement, social organizations, human rights organizations, the Colombian attorney general’s office, the church, and all political parties to let president Uribe know that executive action is needed since it can no longer be tolerated that civic organizations that are clearly democratic and have been recognized as such by the state should now be considered terrorist in nature. Colombians as well as the global community should hold president Uribe responsible for innumerable casualties, non-fatal and fatal, suffered by indigenous communities as a result of military interventions to prevent people from exercising their right to demonstrate and mobilize for change, for not honoring agreements and for human rights violations such as segregation and displacement.
Summarizing, we believe that this press conference was held for no other reason than to justify the use of arms and other repressive measures against workers in general, and in particular against those involved in labor struggles, progressive organizations and labor unions.
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621