(Translated by Peter Lenny, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
Terrorist Attack on SINTRAEMCALI
Just Five Days After a Federal Judge Ordered
President and Vice President to Apologise
April 17, 2014
The undersigned trade union and human rights organisations call the attention of the national and international community to the terrorist attack targeting the offices of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de las Empresas Municipales de Cali (SINTRAEMCALI), a trade union organisation that, since 2004, has been targeted by anti-trade union practices and policies by the State, in the form of verbal attacks, death threats, attempted murder and assault, displacement and exile, all designed to destroy it.
1) On 16 April, at about 2:25 a.m., noises were heard outside, at which point the office night watchman went to one of the windows and saw that fire bombs were being thrown at the building in the San Nicolás neighbourhood of Cali city, in Valle del Cauca state.
2) The office doors were damaged by the heat, the facade filled with smoke and the water pipes burst, which helped control the fire.
3) The perpetrators were four (4) individuals, two of whom were on a motorcycle; the other two (2), who were on foot, subsequently boarded a taxi in which they left the scene.
On 11 April 2014, at 4:00 p.m., the 29th Municipal Criminal Court of Bogota ordered the President of the Republic, Juan Manuel Santos, and the Vice-president of the Republic, Angelino Garzón, to apologise to the members of SINTRAEMCALI, SINTRAUNICOL and SINTRATELEFONOS for the crimes they suffered during the Álvaro Uribe Vélez government.
a) In July 2004, the management of EMCALI – under intervention ordered by President Álvaro Uribe Vélez and the Superintendent for Residential Public Servcies, Eva María Uribe Tobón – dismissed fifty-one (51) workers, among them six (6) trade union leaders. On 29 March 2012, the Constitutional Court passed sentence T-261 ordering these workers to be reinstated and specifying that “from the alleged evidence in the case papers it can be concluded that the workers’ dismissal resulted rather from anti-trade union behaviour by the employer” (our emphasis).
b) On 24 September 2004, the existence of the so-called “Operation Dragon” was revealed. The purpose of this plan was to violate the rights to life, safety and personal freedom of trade union leaders, human rights workers and opposition political leaders.
The investigations established that the company Consultoría Integral Latinoamericana had been contracted with the approval of the Superintendent of Public Services. In turn, it had subcontracted the private armed company, SERACIS, which embarked on a series of actions to infiltrate SINTRAEMCALI and penetrate trade union and political leaders’ security arrangements, seeking also to identify their weaknesses, for the purpose of pursuing plans for extermination.
At present, retired Coronel Julián Villate Leal and two retired Majors are being judged for these events, which had the support of the Ministry of Defence, the Home Ministry, the Administrative Department of Security, and other institutions.
c) Between 19 and 27 July 2007, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Francisco Santos Calderón and José Obdulio Gaviria pursued a public, national and international campaign designed to present the members of SINTRAEMCALI, SINTRAUNICOL and SINTRATELEFONOS as proxies for terrorism and allies of subversive forces. For that purpose, they held press conferences, published columns in various communications media and committed injurious public acts in Colombia and abroad.
d) On 7 August 2007 – that is 13 days after the last attacks by Alvaro Uribe Vélez, Francisco Santos Calderón and José Obdulio Gaviria – a threat signed by the Aguilas Negras paramilitary structure was received in the trade unions’ e-mail. That threat declared their boards to be military objectives and gave them 30 days to leave the country.
After the corresponding legal processes were begun against senior members of State, Francisco Santos Calderón gave a press conference on 3 February 2012, in the city of Bogota, where he withdrew the accusations he had made against the trade union organisations and apologised for his acts, appearing before the judge who was to begin hearing the case against him, to apologise and apply for the case to be closed, to which the court agreed.
On 10 April 2014, José Obdulio Gaviria appeared at the bunker of the Office of the Prosecutor-General of the Republic, where he also apologised at a press conference.
On 11 April 2014, the 29th Municipal Criminal Court with hearing powers, recognised in a public hearing that the acts committed between 19 and 27 July 2007 were acts of State, which constitute a crime, for which reason it accepted the SINTRAEMCALI and SINTRAUNICOL representative’s application and ordered the President and Vice-president of the Republic to take reparatory measures and steps to ensure that events like these are not repeated.
In view of the foregoing events, which occurred only five (5) days after an order had been given to redress the crimes of State, we allow ourselves to ask you:
2. To express concern at the attack on the SINTRAEMCALI office and particularly at the risk that members of that trade union organisation, its leaders and lawyers who have provided legal representation in these cases, are being exposed to.
3. To take URGENT AND EXTRAORDINARY measures to protect the lives and personal safety of the members of this trade union organisation, their leaders and lawyers who have provided legal representation in these cases. These measures have been suspended in the past in connection with the persecution and attacks; and
4. To begin investigations to identify individually the material and intellectual culprits of these events and bring them to justice to answer for their acts.
INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF JURISTS – Latin America Representative
CENTRAL UNITARIA DE TRABAJADORES – VALLE DEL CAUCA
PROHIBIDO OLVIDAR CAMPAIGN
CONGRESO DE LOS PUEBLOS
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