Interview with Luis Hernandez, President of SINTRAEMCALI, London 18th September 2004
The start of a new genocide in Colombia directed by the national government and the military and paramilitary forces has been confirmed. In two raids carried out on 25th August the Attorney General discovered documents that provide evidence of clear participation of the military forces who filtered documents to the paramilitaries, but also that the authorities had full knowledge of this plan to exterminate trade unionists.
Operation Dragon is a plan directed at SINTRAEMCALI and all those who are in agreement or support the union�s struggle against neo-liberalism – Angelino Garz�n the Governor of Valle de Cauca, Lucho Garz�n the mayor of Bogot�, comrades like Congress representatives Alexander L�pez and Wilson Borja, also Gustavo Preto, Carlos Gaviria, the people of Polo Democratico and of Alternativa Democratica, and even of the MOIR who have a presence in Congress. This plan is structured by the paramilitaries with the military forces and in the full knowledge of the Interior Ministry, according to Colonel Villate who was detained by the Attorney General.
Operation Dragon brings to mind the situation 15 years ago when a similar Machiavellian plot called Operation Red Dance to exterminate the comrades of Uni�n Patriotica was brought to public attention. Operation Red Dance was directed by the military. Each elected president knew this, as the plan unfolded, generating systematic assassinations in Uraba, Cordoba and in all regions where there had been militants or sympathisers with the political line of the Uni�n Patriotica. Great trade unionists, social leaders, human rights defenders that were sympathetic to this political movement as an expression of hope for the Colombian people were extensively exterminated by the state. This continued with the assassination of more than three thousand trade unionists, the majority of them affiliated to our centre the CUT.
And now we are assailed by the same concerns. The evidence has been made public of a new plan, Operation Dragon. It is being directed by the army�s intelligence unit, with the knowledge of the national government. What is clear and most significant is that the colonel who is Director of the DAS (Department of Administrative Security), the National Director of Police, the commander of the Cali Metropolitan Police and the Ministry of the Interior and Justice all had knowledge of the plan as well. This is an organised apparatus to extinguish SINTRAEMCALI as an expression of opposition, of resistance and struggle against neoliberalism.
To be a trade unionist and to struggle for the workers rights is treated as a serious crime in Colombia. The plan is to assassinate us, to eliminate opposition to the privatisation of EMCALI corporation, as well as other public service corporations, and all those standing up to the terror policy of Uribe Velez.
The struggle in Colombia is difficult. The social movement in our country is going through a crisis, perhaps the biggest in our history. The international community, the social movement in Europe that is assembling in London, has a great mission concerning the social movement in Colombia. That is to unify efforts so that they can be directed in support of a trade union leadership facing genocide, as evidenced in the past and as the government of Uribe Velez is now doing. Your solidarity is vital for the trade union movement and the workers. The only option we have is to keep on resisting, to resist neoliberalism, to resist globalisation. Our resistance is a contribution to a better Colombia, where there will be peace with social justice.
Luis Hernandez President of SINTRAEMCALI
London 18th September 2004