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News :: Labor
CHILE’S WORKERS UNION CALLS FOR FOCUS ON COLOMBIA
31 Aug 2007
According to the AI report, 2,245 Colombian union members were murdered in the 15 years between 1991 and 2006. In the same time period, 3,400 received threats and 138 were disappeared. Almost half of the killings are attributed to rightist paramilitary groups, which have links to politicians within Colombia’s government. AI found government security forces responsible for 43 percent.
Written by Beatrice Karol Burks
Monday, 06 August 2007

Chile’s Central Workers Union (CUT) is asking for “solidarity, now!” with their Colombian counterparts.

Last week, CUT representatives made their position known during a press conference that coincided with the publication of an Amnesty International (AI) report called “Homicides, arbitrary detentions and death threats: the daily reality for unions in Colombia.”

“We (in Chile) know what it’s like to live under a violent dictatorship. But we also know that there can be violence under democracy,” said María Rosas, CUT’s vice-president for women. “Colombia’s government is trying to hide what happens (to workers) so as not harm its international image.”

According to the AI report, 2,245 Colombian union members were murdered in the 15 years between 1991 and 2006. In the same time period, 3,400 received threats and 138 were disappeared. Almost half of the killings are attributed to rightist paramilitary groups, which have links to politicians within Colombia’s government. AI found government security forces responsible for 43 percent.

“A couple of weeks ago (Colombia’s president Alvaro) Uribe blamed the trade unions for opposing a free trade agreement with the United States,” explained Interamerican Workers Organization representative Victor Baez. “Saying this, in a country like Colombia, is the same as ordering the paramilitaries to execute union members.”

Baez also spoke out against multinational companies committing human rights abuses, not only in Colombia, but throughout Latin America.

“Workers rights are human rights,” said Baez. “Let me give you the example of a small mountain town in Peru. A foreign mining company had conflicts with the local residents, but they solved the problem by buying a hospital for the town and everyone was happy. The mayor was happy.”

“But now,” he went on to say, “this company can continue polluting the area. It can continue making the miners and residents ill. But the company bought the town a hospital… The company bought the local’s human rights. The same thing is happening in Colombia. Only there, multinational companies pay the paramilitaries to suppress or liquidate unions. What is occurring over there is intolerable. And I ask that Amnesty International investigate this situation.”

By Beatrice Karol Burks (editorATsantiagotimes.cl)

http://www.valparaisotimes.cl/content/view/145/25/

This work is in the public domain
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