The Colombia Solidarity Campaign supported the visits of trade union leaders in May and June.
CUT National Executive member Domingo Tovar spoke at a special TUC seminar on 10th May. He was joined by John Monks, TUC General Secretary, and representatives of the ICFTU, ILO and Louise Richards (UNISON) on behalf of the ‘Justice for Colombia’ solidarity initiative. Domingo addressed the full conference of the Fire Brigades Union, where he received a standing ovation.
Alexander Lopez (President) and Luis Hernandez (Vice-President) were guests of UNISON for the union’s annual conference. Alexander addressed an international rally at the conference alongside fellow trade unionists from Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Alexander and Luis spoke at a series of fringe meetings including Amnesty International, the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, United Left and functions with UNISON regions, branches and national leaders. They received warm solidarity and enthusiastic agreement with SINTRAEMCALI’s fight against privatisation at all levels of the union. UNISON’s International Department has been especially helpful and supportive.
Luis addressed an international rally at the train drivers union ASLEF conference, and from there was invited by Sinn Fein councillor Eoin O’Broin to Belfast, where Luis spent two days visiting. He met with UNISON, civil servants and teachers unions, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and newspapers as well as Latin American refugees and political activists (see his speech above).
Trade Unions Protest Mick Rix ASLEF General Secretary, Bill Speirs General Secretary of the Scottish TUC, UNISON, the FBU and many others are sending urgent messages of protest concerning human rights violations (see above). Here is one example:
"On behalf of large numbers of my fellow journalists in the United Kingdom, we wish to register the most strongest objections at the continued blatant breaches of the UN Charter of Human Rights by your Government, against large numbers of Columbia’s trades unionists who are seeking to freely express their views under the terms of the Constitution of Colombia. We wish to support the Colombian United Workers Federation (CUT) action in denouncing the state of insecurity of trade union leaders, which is clearly and categorically reflected in the violations of human rights, which has so far this year led to the blatant assassinations of no fewer than 55 Columbian trade unionists. As a result of the barbaric conduct of some sections of the Government’s so-called law enforcement officers. This is a disgraceful record of the abuse of freedom and human rights by any standards. We propose to ask the British Government to press the European Union and all United Nations Agencies to stop all further financial aid to Colombia, until clear and categorical undertakings are given by your Government to ratify and thereby conform with the terms and provisions of the United Nations’ Charter of Human Rights."
Gordon McLean Former Secretary, Fleet Street Branch, National Union of Journalists, London. UK.
Most Colombian refugees are in very serious circumstances as their justified appeals for asylum are being turned down by the Home Office. The situation for them, as with asylum seekers from other countries that are war zones, is extremely serious (see article ‘Colombian Refugees in the Front Line’ in the last issue of Colombia Solidarity).
As a campaign we support the right of Colombian refugees to asylum, and we believe that it is important to link up with other refugee groups and campaigns.
We joined the picket of Harmondsworth, where the government is building a new detention centre at the side of Heathrow’s runways. There will be a school and medical facilities within the compound so that families are kept completely excluded from British society.
Our members have participated in the picket and demonstration in Haringey, led by Kosovan refugees and teachers at the College of North East London, to block a wave of detentions and deportations. We urge all our readers to support these campaigns, as they are fighting the cutting edge of repression against Colombians here in Britain.
16 June Dayschool
A busy and useful dayschool. The video Colombia Peace At What Price made by the solidarity campaign in Australia, was a very good opener stimulating discussion on forms of resistance. Alex and Luis briefed us on the current situation in Colombia. Journalist Michael Gillard gave an excellent presentation on BP’s record in Casanare.