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In your dread of dictators you established a state of society in which
every ward boss is a dictator, every private employer a
dictator, every financier a dictator, all with the livelihood
of the workers at his mercy, and no public responsibility.
- George Bernard Shaw



How many more murders before the world wakes up to the real Plan Colombia?


Sean Smyth


At 8.00 p.m. on the 12th April 2002 Hernan De Jes'us Ortiz Parra, vice president of the Caldas United Educators Union EDUCAL, a member of the National Human Rights team of the CUT and responsible for the permanent Human Rights Committee of Caldas CPHD and José Robeiro Pineda, ex-director of the electricity workers union Sintraelecol were assassinated. The trade union leaders were dining in a restaurant when several heavily armed men, who arrived in trucks, entered the restaurant and killed them. At 2.30 p.m. on the 14th April 2002, Tito Libio Herandez was standing at the main entrance of the University of Narion where he had worked for the last 28 years. Two masked men sped past on a high velocity motorbike and shot him repeatedly. He was rushed to the local hospital and was proclaimed dead at 5.02 p.m. The killers escaped into the obscurity of what in Colombia they call impunity. A better word may be immunity, an immunity which has meant that nobody has been prosecuted in 99% of the cases of over (3500) THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED trade unionists that have been murdered since 1986.

Last year 160 trade unionists were assassinated by right wing paramilitary groups all supported by the Government in Colombia and the USA. So far this year 52 trade unionists have been assassinated by the military backed paramilitaries. The reason they were assassinated cuts straight to the heart of the deteriorating political situation in Colombia and the lack of respect for fundamental human rights for all those individuals seeking to defend public services, protect natural resources from the multinational corporations, and oppose growing (USA) military intervention in the country. USA intervention and the elimination of social leaders is a neo-liberal economic model, which while widely recognised as a failure, continues to expand its tentacles across the globe.

The real threat to world peace is the USA’s wish to be the police force of the world and to run the global economy. The US Committee on International Relations should look in their own back yard, for the biggest supporter of RIGHT WING terrorism is the USA. Their war is not one on terrorism but one on anyone who opposes their neo-liberal agenda. In Colombia, popular resistance to the economic reforms meant that their imposition was delayed until the late 1980s and since then there has been strong organised movements which has postponed, weakened and modified the extent to which they have been approved and implemented. Unemployment has now raised to 20.4% the highest level this century. Agriculture has almost completely collapsed as cheap food imports flooded the market in the last decade, leading to over 1,000,000 hectares of land to be abandoned. Levels of poverty have risen, and official government reports suggest that over 60% of the population now live below the poverty line. This in a country blessed with an abundance of natural resources: coal, oil, emeralds, water and bio-diversity unmatched in Latin America. The right wing paramilitary groups in Colombia controls the Northern Colombian borders where most of the cocaine is exported from.

One question to Gerry Adams: do you still think George W Bush Jr. hasn't put a foot wrong, and why is your party letting the USA use the Colombian 3 as pawns to push through more arms funding for the Colombia Government and their right wing paramilitaries? Instead of kissing Bush's butt you should be demanding the release of the three and that the USA stop supplying Black Hawk helicopters and F16 fighters to support the carpet bombing in the south of Colombia; and that SF demand the following actions:

1/ Demand that the Colombian government give immediate orders to all authorities to detain those responsible both materially and intellectually for these crimes against trade unionists in Colombia, and for this crime against TITO LIBIO HERNANDEZ.

2/ Demand that the appropriate government bodies begin immediate impartial investigation against the material authors of this crime, and if appropriate investigate the activities of the forces of law and order for their actions or inactions in relation to this vile assassination of TITO LIBIO HERN’ANDEZ.

3/ Call on the ILO to name a commission of inquiry and if appropriate sanction the Colombian government for its negligence in relation to the situation of trade unionists in Colombia.



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