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News :: Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor
Please Take Action: Stop the killing of Colombian union activists!
16 Jun 2005
Miguel Fernandez is a labor activist and President of the Cauca Teachers Union in Colombia. Miguel recently returned to Colombia after spending several months working with Eastern Massachusetts Jobs with Justice through a program that brings Colombian trade unionists who have been targeted for death by paramilitary groups to the U.S. Miguel has received four death threats in the last ten days, one of which was aimed at his entire family.
The threats are presumably from paramilitary groups tied to the Colombian government that seeks to eradicate any kind of opposition to its
power. Union leaders are perceived as dissidents, and are murdered, detained, and tortured on a regular basis. More labor activists have been assasinated in Colombia than all other countries combined, making it the most dangerous place to form a union in the world. Please take a moment to send a message to the Colombian Ambassador to the U.S. and to the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia demanding an end to the threats and violence against Miguel Fernandez and other trade unionists!

Take action now!

Miguel Fernandez is president of the teacher's union in Cauca as well as the regional president of the CUT-Colombia, the central labor federation of Colombia. He is an adamant defender of human rights and is very dedicated to improving the plight of the Colombian people.

Due to constant threats to his life for his union organizing, Miguel was forced to leave Colombia last May. As part of a solidarity program with the AFL-CIO, Miguel spent several months in the U.S in a temporary exile. While here, he spoke at venues such as university panels, union rank and file meetings, and community organization events. Miguel attended a protest against the School of the Americas in Georgia, and was also a key participant in a conference called "Labor Rights Are Human Rights" to comemmorate International Human Rights Day organized by E. Massachusetts Jobs with Justice.

The Colombian paramilitary groups and the government have wrongfully accused union activists of working with the guerrilla movement, and the government has used these accusations as flawed justifications for violence. Thousands of union activists have been killed since 1986. It is crucial that we show our support for Miguel's and other Colombian's right to organize and denounce the threats to their lives.

You can take action on this alert via the web at:

Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this:

We encourage you to take action by July 15, 2005

Save Colombian Union Leader & JwJ Activist Miguel Fernandez

If you have access to a web browser, you can take action on this alert by going to the following URL:

Your letter will be addressed and sent to:
Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno
Ambassador William Wood

Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],

I write this letter to express my concern with the safety of the Colombian teachers' union leader and human rights activist, Miguel Fernandez. Mr. Fernandez spent several months in the United States as part of a program bringing trade unionists here that have been targeted for death by paramilitary groups in Colombia, and has since returned to his country, where he has resumed his union activities.

As an adamant defender of human rights, I am troubled by the efforts of the Colombian government to stifle political dissent and union organizing. Union activists have been wrongfully accused of working with the guerrilla movement, and the government has used these accusations as flawed justifications for violence. Such is the case with Mr. Fernandez.

My concern is that Mr. Fernandez and his family should be able to live and work free from terrorist threats and violence. We have learned that in the last ten days, Mr. Fernandez has received four threats to his life and that the lives of his family have been threatened as well. I firmly believe in everyone's right to organize free from any form of intimidation; a right that is protected by the constitution of Colombia.

I call on you to do all in your power to guarantee the safety of Miguel Alberto Fernandez Orozco, his family, and his co-workers. I also call on you to work to improve the human rights situation for union activists in Colombia, where thousands have been murdered since 1986.

I will continue to closely monitor Mr. Fernandez's situation and know that the many organizations dedicated to workers' rights, human rights, and international solidarity will do so as well. I thank you for your attention to this important matter.

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