URIBE’S STRATEGY – DISPOSSESSION, LIES, AGRESSION, FALSE POSITIVES, JUDICIAL FRAME-UPS and IMPUNITY
Santiago de Cali, 7 April 2009
Valle University, EMSIRVA and EMCALI are laboratories of the Uribe government’s third phase of neo-liberalism: the definitive handover of public commonwealth to private corporations and the multinationals.
They were prohibited from going to school and to university.
They were prohibited from constitutional guarantees.
They were prohibited from all the sciences, except military science.
Prohibiting the right to complain, they were prohibited from questioning.
Today I suggest to you, my brother, that this does not happen again,
Prohibited to Forget!
The privatisation of public services, education and health are not new issues, neither in Colombia nor globally. However what is particularly serious in the Colombian case is that state crimes and other terror methods are used against the social movements that defend the public sector.
What took place at Valle University on 4 April 2009, when the police tried to stage a frame-up designed to present members of the university community as terrorists, is part of the ongoing policies of ‘democratic security’ and privatisation of education that have generated the most awful violations of human rights.
In the last two weeks alone the city of Cali has been the scene of the application of measures violating human rights and international humanitarian law. These incidents were intended to destabilise a strong social movement that has taken the lead in defending human rights, based on constitutional and international norms such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant of Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, amongst others. It is a social movement that defends the rights of the majority – workers, students, Afro-descendent and indigenous peoples, campesinos and popular sectors.
A social movement that has acted strongly in recent years to government aggressions, through the Summit of Social Organisations of the South West, the cane cutters strike, the Minga of Social and Community Resistance and in the last two weeks the banner of resistance has been maintained in the CAM Administration Centre led by the workers of EMCALI EICE ESP and of EMSIRVA, and the encampment to defend Uni-Valle as a public university.
This movement has stood up to defend human rights against the terrifying crimes committed by the current government. We can show with academic and political rigour that, whilst paying lip-service to the resolutions, declarations and recommendations of the international community, in practice the Colombian government imposes the rule of the market through dispossession, lies, aggression, false positives, judicial frame-ups and impunity.
The events that have taken place in Cali occurred in the following manner:
I.- UNIVALLE CASE
From 4:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., 4 April 2009, Valle University (Univalle): RAID AND JUDICIAL FRAME-UP: Members of the National Police special intelligence unit SIJIN and the riot police Mobile Anti-Disturbance Unit ESMAD, came onto the Valle University campus with the purpose of carrying out a raid. They were led by General RICARDO RICAURTE, Commander of the Police in Cauca Valley, who ordered the identification and photographing of human rights defenders and workers who tried to verify what the authorities were doing, stopping them from carrying out their work.
General RICARDO RICAURTE, paraphrasing president ÁLVARO URIBE stated during the raid "there is nowhere closed to the Police. As an authority we respect the classrooms, laboratories and other enclosed places in the institution, but we are able to be present in the open spaces". Coincidentally it was out in the open that the police apparently found five bars of ‘pentolite’ explosive, 20 metres of 6 gram detonating cords, 2 metres of fuse-wire and two PVC tubes, one 1.38 meters long by 38 cm in diameter, and the other 1.25 meters long by 9 cm in diameter. This is what the police presented to the media to justify the raid and discredit the Valle University community.
The First Lie
According to the police the explosive material was found in the green areas of the campus, but the photographic evidence that they themselves took shows the material to be well preserved, with no sign of humidity or deterioration. We highlight that the country has been suffering a wave of winter weather, and that in Cali the rain has not ceased for weeks, with the result that the grassy areas of the campus are totally water-logged. Technically this evidence remains nullified. We note that this is not the first time that the security forces have used such tactics to try and stage a frame up (see annexed photo).
The Second Lie
In the first record of the raid presented in the Multitaller Building, there was no mention of criminal materials being found, but in the National Police’s subsequent elaboration of said record, it was stated that explosive material was found. This is completely contrary to the initial record of the raid.
The First Outrage
The Public Prosecutor (Fiscalía General de la Nación) refused to hand over the official records of the raid, that had been written out with large blank spaces, leaving room for subsequent alterations of the same.
The Second Outrage
General RICARDO RICAURTE, Commander of the police in Cauca Valley, stated that from the date of the raid, Univalle will stay closed, an attack on university autonomy, as this is not the decision reached by the University’s own competent authorities.
Record of Egregious Human Rights Crimes
22 September 2005: Assassination of JHONNY SILVA student in the fifth semester in the Chemistry Faculty, by members of ESMAD.
10 Abril 2006: Assassination of WILLIAM ORTIZ student at Valle University, by sicarios hitmen, in Yumbo.
4 October 2006: Assassination of JULIAN ANDRES HURTADO, student in the last semester of Prehospital Attention, perpetrated by sicarios in the city of Cali.
3 August 2007: Assassination of KATERINE SOTO OSPINA and ROLANDO QUINTERO seriously wounded, both students of Valle University, carried out by the National Army at a tourist stop in San Cipriano, a village in the rural zone of Buenaventura.
26 March 2009: Assassination of JUAN DAVID JIMÉNEZ CABALLOS student in the second semester of Corporate Administration, took place scarcely a few meters from the headquarters of Univalle in Zarzal, in the north of Cauca Valley.
The attacks against members of the University Community and the policy of privatisation come in the context of declarations by president Álvaro Uribe Vélez and Vice-president Francisco Santos stating that a nest of terrorists lies hidden in the public universities, and that there will be no areas forbidden to the security forces.
In the current period there have been frame-ups against workers, students and teachers at the following universities: Nacional, Pedagógica, Distrital, Industrial de Santander, Antioquia and la Guajira (see web page http://www.aceucolombia.org/Noticias/notiaceu20071005.php ).
From January to April 2009 there has been permanent harassment, threats and persecution at Univalle centres in Cali, Zarzal and Buenaventura.
GOVERNMENT POLICY AIMS
Continue with the policy of direct aggression against the education and university communities at national level.
Stigmatize the Student Community, primary, secondary and particularly University branding the whole community as terrorists.
Financial weakening of the Public Universities through indebtedness with international banks to generate the handover of public commonwealth, faced with the impossibility of paying off the debt.
Finally, to continue privatizing public education and develop a policy of the market, only those who can pay will have access to the service.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE AGGRESSION IN THE LIGHT OF INTERNATIONAL LAW:
On 8 December 1999, the Committee of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the UNITED NATIONS [on the Right to Education] stated that education in all its forms and at all its levels must have the following inter-related characteristics:
(a) Availability – functioning educational institutions and programmes have to be available in sufficient quantity within the jurisdiction of the State party. What they require to function depends upon numerous factors, including the developmental context within which they operate; for example, all institutions and programmes are likely to require buildings or other protection from the elements, sanitation facilities for both sexes, safe drinking water, trained teachers receiving domestically competitive salaries, teaching materials, and so on; while some will also require facilities such as a library, computer facilities and information technology;
(b) Accessibility – educational institutions and programmes have to be accessible to everyone, without discrimination, within the jurisdiction of the State party. Accessibility has three overlapping dimensions:
Non-discrimination – education must be accessible to all, especially the most vulnerable groups, in law and fact, without discrimination on any of the prohibited grounds;
Physical accessibility – education has to be within safe physical reach, either by attendance at some reasonably convenient geographic location (e.g. a neighbourhood school) or via modern technology (e.g. access to a "distance learning" programme);
Economic accessibility – education has to be affordable to all… primary education shall be available "free to all", States parties are required to progressively introduce free secondary and higher education;
(c) Acceptability – the form and substance of education, including curricula and teaching methods, have to be acceptable (e.g. relevant, culturally appropriate and of good quality) to students and parents.
(d) Adaptability – education has to be flexible so it can adapt to the needs of changing societies and communities and respond to the needs of students within their diverse social and cultural settings.
THE PROPOSAL: PUBLIC EDUCATION THAT IS OF QUALITY, FREE and OBLIGATORY
ALL SUPPORT TO THE UNIVERSIDAD DEL VALLE – TO DEFEND THAT WHICH IS OURS
Faced with these facts from 7.30am on Saturday 4 April the university community declared itself in Permanent Assembly and organized an encampment to defend the public Universidad del Valle. [This is] the only possibility to protect itself from state aggression and to defend fundamental rights to public education, university autonomy and academic normality.
That is why we invite the entire national community and the international community present in Colombia to close ranks with Valle University and join the assembly in defence of public education.
It is important to underline has been in session since Saturday on themes that are central to the public university, budgets, education policies, human rights and state responsibility.
REQUEST TO THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
We ask the national and international community to declare itself in permanent oversight of this process, given that we have serious fears that the group of people and organisations who are directly accompanying the assembly will themselves be attacked by the state forces. Ever since early Saturday morning people have been followed, photographed, there have been cars parked around the university filming, as well as ground and aerial patrols. In the afternoon of yesterday, 6 April 2009 two police agents infiltrated the University and one of them physically attacked student representative JAMES LARREA, whilst ESMAD squads await immediately outside the university
For these reasons we ask to activate a 24 hour human rights alert.
II SINTRAEMCALI CASE
16 March 2009: SINTRAEMCALI, MASSIVE SACKINGS WITH VIOLATIONS TO UNION AUTONOMY AND THREATS TO THE WORKERS. 3 workers were sacked without just cause, adding to the 51 workers and union leaders sacked in 2004, and new dismissals are announced.
Not to fulfil the agreements made by president ALVARO URIBE VELEZ, superintendent of Public Services EVA MARIA URIBE and Minister of Work DIEGO PALACIOS principally dealing with:
1. Devolution of EMCALI to Cali as a municipality: EMCALI continues in the hands of the Superintendent of Public Services, that has generated a process of privatization bit by bit and the handover of the Corporation to the International banks and multinationals, split up the different components of the parts of the corporation (Telecommunications, Water supply and Sewerage, Electricity).
2. Violation of Union Autonomy, on the one hand the government sponsors union parallelism, and on the other it requires the undue retention of the contributions made by workers affiliated to SINTRAEMCALI union.
3. Violation of the right to work and due process: The 51 sacked workers and union readers arbitrarily sacked in 2004 have not been reintegrated. On the contrary three more were sacked on 16 March and the superintendent has announced new dismissals.
4. Impunity for cases of grave violations of human rights: against the workers from 1998 to this day: including the extermination plan against workers, union leaders, opposition politicians and human rights defenders known as ‘Operation Dragon’ designed and executed in 2003 and 2004.
5. Suspension of union norms: Violating national and international norms of the rights to association and unionisation.
PROPOSAL: EMCALI SHOULD BE RETURNED TO THE PUBLIC SECTOR
In the face of diverse outrages and violations of the right to work, due process, massive sackings, targeting and threats against union organisation, three workers of EMCALI EICE ESP, members of SINTRAEMCALI commenced a Hunger Strike on 19 March 2009. They are situated in an Exhibition of Resistance, which was the end point of the multitudinous march of 31 March in defence of the public commons of Santiago de Cali. We stress that the three workers on hunger strike are suffering serious health problems and still the government has made no pronouncement.
Reintegration of the sacked workers and respect for union autonomy.
We call on the national and international community to visit the Exhibition of Resistance installed in the municipal Administrative Centre in Cali. To those who cannot visit we ask you to make a statement, and urge the government to pronounce on the defence of the rights of workers affiliated to SINTRAEMCALI.
III EMSIRVA CASE
26 March 2009: EMSIRVA "OCCUPATION BY SECURITY FORCES OF WORK POSTS AND FRAUDULENT LIQUIDATION OF THE CORPORATION" By order of the Superintendent of Public Services Eva María Uribe, in the early morning hours workers were evicted from their posts at the Garbage Public Services Corporation of Cali [EMPRESA DE SERVICIO PUBLICO DE ASEO DE CALI] – EMSIRVA. By means of this measure, without consultation and prefigured by false financial motivations, 439 workers engaged in the collection, management and disposal of garbage in the city of Santiago de Cali, were sacked.
Intervention of the National Superintendent of Public Services in EMSIRVA in 2005, with the aim of liquidating it and handing it over to national and international private capital.
Corrupt and fraudulent management by the National Superintendent of Public Services.
Massive sackings and devastation of the union movement, violation of human rights and impunity.
Violation of agreements made between the trade union of EMSIRVA and Cali’s municipal authorities to seek solutions and achieve a consolidation of the corporation, guaranteeing the financial viability of the corporation.
Implementation of a systematic policy of handing over public commonwealth to private corporations.
Police repression against just protest, repression that left several workers injured, including physical attacks on councillor Wilson Arias, who was present to defend the workers rights in the early hours of 26 March.
March of the citizenry, the representative watchdogs [las veedurías], the common people themselves [los comuneros], the workers organisations, users and authorities in defence of public commonwealth, self-determination, peace and development.
Thousands of caleños occupied the streets of Cali, demanding that the national government devolve EMCALI to the municipality and revoke Resolution 07455, which liquidated EMSIRVA.
Dra. Eva María Uribe, the national Superintendent of Public Services, was declared a persona non grata in the city of Cali, given the multiple abuses, mess ups and equivocations of her management, in the name of the national government presided over by Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Declaration made by the City mayor Jorge Iván Ospina.
Demand the resignation of Superintendent Eva María Uribe and her intervening agent for EMSIRVA ESP and now EMCALI EICE ESP, Dra. Susana Correa Holguín.
Demand that in conformity with the law, a direct revocation of the resolution of 25 March by the National Superintendent of Public Services that ordered the liquidation of Garbage Public Services Corporation of Cali – EMSIRVA ESP; and that the intervention in EMCALI EICE ESP be similarly revoked, and control of the corporation be returned to the city of Cali and its local authorities.
Because of the above we request that you all as soon as possible make public statements concerning these three conflicts, which are together part of the government’s policy of "Democratic Security" and/or State Terrorism.
We request that the international community: Latin American, European, Canadian, North American, African and from India demand that the Colombian government fulfil internal as well as international norms with respect to human rights and invite you to become part of the international oversight of these conflicts.
We request that the democrat Congressmen visiting the country verify the facts of this denouncement and attend a meeting with the social sectors in Cali that are confronted with this grave assault.
This attack on the city of Santiago de Cali has been applied in the same form across the country.
The below signed organisations condemn the events here described and call on you all to [join us in]:
WE DEFEND THE PUBLIC PATRIMONY and THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION OF THE PEOPLES
"To defend the public patrimony is to defend the future of the nation and of our children, silence would be complicity in the complete hand-over of our country, we will not permit another centimetre of our territory to be occupied by the agents of death".
ASOCIACION NOMADESC, CAMPAÑA PROHIBIDO OLVIDAR, CORPORACION JURIDICA UTOPIA, SINTRAUNICOL VALLE DEL CAUCA Y NACIONAL , CAMPAMENTO POR LA DEFENSA DE LA UNIVERSIDAD PÚBLICA DEL VALLE, MINGA SOCIAL Y COMUNITARIA, ASOCIACIÓN PARA EL DESARROLLO SOCIAL INTEGRAL ECATE, FUNDACION COMITÉ DE SOLIDARIDAD CON LOS PRESIS POLITICOS, CORPORACION SEMBRAR, COLOMBIA SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN (UK), RED DE HERMANDAD Y SOLIDARIDAD – COLOMBIA, LATIN AMERICAN SOLIDARITY CENTRE (IRELAND).