In October of last year during the “Journalists’ Congress” that took place in Havana, the Cuban President, Fidel Castro warned that Latin America was a time bomb, and that “ they have accumulated the dynamite; all the remedies that they have applied to defuse this social bomb have made an already unbearable situation even worse.”
After a decade under the neoliberal economic model, the mistakes and crises are easy to see, and we find a Latin America burdened by an external debt of 950 billion dollars; a level of poverty that grows more alarming by the day; the surrender of national patrimony through the privatisation of all the main economic sectors; and the imposition of suffocating taxes to comply with the IMF and the unbearable external debt repayments.
It was these same measures that detonated the social explosion in Argentina, that left 29 dead, and countless more injured or detained, and caused 5 changes in the Presidency in a single week.
The Latin American oligarchies are deeply worried that the civil unrest witnessed in Argentina, might have a “snowball effect” throughout countries that some say are on the brink of revolution, such as Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. In Colombia, although the economic situation has not deteriorated to the level seen in Argentina, it is not much better, and the State, with its policy of privatisation and surrender of national sovereignty, has encountered some real workers’ resistance, despite the state terrorism imposed through paramilitary assassinations of union leaders, and the continuous disappearances and death threats. The workers have risen up to fight for the right to life, for the right to work, and for Colombia’s national patrimony.
The clearest and best example of this resistance, is that of the workers of SINTRAEMCALI, who for several years have been fighting a bitter struggle against attempts by the government to privatise their company. The most recent developments started on 25th December 2001, when more than 600 workers occupied the CAM (Central Municipal Administration) building in protest against the change of Managing Director, a precursor to privatising the company behind the backs of the workers. They did not have to wait long for support, and more than 5,000 people from across the community have formed a permanent presence at the site of the occupation, demonstrating the strong commitment that SINTRAEMCALI and the marginalised communities of Cali have to each other. SINTRAEMCALI’s work goes further than most unions, and you can see in practice a complete social movement with the widest possible popular backing, within a new concept of unionism with a greater social emphasis.
The struggle which our brothers and sisters in SINTRAEMCALI are fighting, is an example that all of Colombia, all of Latin America, and all the peoples of the world who are fighting against privatisation and the neoliberal economic model, must follow.
IN SINTRAEMCALI, THE WHOLE OF LATIN AMERICA FIGHTS AGAINST PRIVATISATION!
Jorge Diego Salas