You have been fighting alongside us for thirty six days in the historic defence of EMCALI as a Commercial and Industrial State Corporation. You have accompanied SINTRAEMCALI, the citizens of Cali and the Colombian people in conducting one of the fiercest struggles in history against privatisation, globalisation and the neoliberal model. You witnessed how we the workers had to cover our faces so that the government would see us. You protected the EMCALI tower that declared itself on from 25th December a Permanent Popular Assembly.
Eight hundred and sixty four hours of resistance to gain the victory of EMCALI E.I.C.E. demonstrates that the only way to achieve the most elementary human rights is through social protest. We went to Bogotá and for 13 hours we peacefully occupied the offices of the Superintendent of Public Services, to make the government realise that our proposal to defend public services is serious, that we are not just fighting for a job, a salary or a social demand. What we have won today is respect for the integral rights of the Colombian people.
The communities, the local and community action committees, the human rights, trade union and social sectors achieved the totality of these demands presented to the government:
1. No liquidation or privatisation of EMCALI and maintaining its character as an Industrial and Commercial State Corporation.
2. No increase in charges for public services above those already set in EMCALI’s budget for 2002.
3. An optimum solution to guarantee the continuity, operation and functioning of PTAR [waste water project] with the national government seeking to minimise its impact on the finances of EMCALI E.I.C.E E.S.P. and the user community.
4. No administrative, disciplinary, criminal or financial measure to be taken against a worker, and payment of wages for the time of the permanent assembly [occupation].
5. Commitment to convene a public hearing to inform the citizens of Cali about the corporation’s situation and future.
WE WILL NOT BE DIVERTED AWAY FROM THE STRUGGLE against privatisation, corruption, impunity and the criminalisation of social protest.
WE WILL NOT BE MOVED is the sense of the struggle which today saw victory for SINTRAEMCALI, the Colombian workers and the entire world that rises up against injustice.
Amidst sorrow for the 7,900 of our comrades who were murdered by political assassinations last year, 155 of them trade union leaders to whom we dedicate this triumph. We say to all: our dead are martyrs to a cause that will not submit. To the hundreds of workers who resisted from inside the CAM Tower for 36 days;
- to those who risked their lives to occupy the Superintendent of Public Services building in Bogotá, confronting the attack of the state security forces who wanted to force them out with special commando units and snipers in place;
- to all those who mobilised and participated in the marches, meetings, assemblies, road blockades;
- to the international community, to our fraternal trade union organisations; · to the organisations who came together in the city’s strike command;
- to each and everyone who added their grain of sand to turn this struggle into an unstoppable spiral of dignity and resistance for social justice;
to all of you we say fight on, because the struggle continues.
FOR LIFE AND DIGNITY, BETTER TO DIE FOR SOMETHING THAN LIVE FOR NOTHING.
SINTRAEMCALI PRESENTE, PRESENTE, PRESENTE… FOR HOW LONG? FOR EVER!
National and International Human Rights Campaign Against Privatisation,Corruption and the Criminalisation of Social Protest.
Santiago de Cali, 30th January 2002