Appeal from Columbia
11 October 2006
COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT PRESSURISED BY MINING MULTINATIONALS DECIDES TO SUSPEND THE PROTECTIVE MEASURES GIVEN TO THE PRESIDENT OF SINTRAMINERCOL, FRANCISCO RAMIREZ CUELLAR.
THE UNDERSIGNED TRADE UNIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL ORGANISATIONS REJECT THE SUSPENSION OF THE SECURITY MEASURES AGREED WITH THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CAUTIONARY MEASURES DECREED BY THE INTER-AMERICAN COMISSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN ORDER TO PROTECT THE PHYSICAL INTEGRITY AND LIFE OF THE PRESIDENT OF SINTRAMINERCOL.
1. Sintraminercol is a company based union affiliated to the CUT which has lead the fight for 16 years in defence of the mining resources of Colombia, carrying out activities in support of the small scale mining communities, black, indigenous and white communities that live off the small and medium scale mining in their regions. It has also denounced the imposition of a mining – energy model under the auspices of multi lateral organisations, transnationals, the Colombian government and the governments of the so called developed countries whose application has left behind the violation of national sovereignty, human rights violations ( selective killings, massacres, forced displacement), hunger and misery for the people who inhabit these regions.
2. The government of Álvaro Uribe Vélez ordered the liquidation of the state mining company MINERCOL LTDA through decree 2554 of 28th of January 2004 in appliance of the Mining Code, which was drawn up by the lawyers of the multinationals HOLCM, CEMEX and Ladrillera Santafé, the latter being a company owned by the family of the ex president of Colombia Andrés Pastrana.
3. At the same time as the liquidation there was an increase in the tailing, filming, taping and harassments of the members of the National Ctte, a bomb attack on the union headquarters and also an attack on the life of the president of Sintraminercol. Also the Fuero Sindicales were removed (a legal protection which prevents trade union representatives from being sacked), workers were fired and the workers who opposed the liquidation of the company were threatened.
4. The Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights decreed cautionary measures to be taken in favour of Francisco Ramírez
Cuellar due to high risks related to his trade union activity; the attack
he suffered in October 2004 and the ongoing threats against his life and
physical integrity. The protective measures accorded with the Colombian
government consisted of a hard protection scheme with two bodyguards, radio
communication, automatic weapons (which were never handed over), bulletproof
vests and an armour-plated car.
5. In the months of April and May 2006 Francisco Ramírez Cuellar in his capacity as an advisor to Funtraminergetica took part in the negotiations around the strike by the workers in Drummond; at the same time he has played an important role in suing this multinational in the USA and was behind the decision by the Danish government to suspend the importation of coal until the murder of three trade unionists affiliated to Sintraminergetica-Funtraminergetica was cleared up.
When the strike was over in the two mining companies, the reprisals weren’t long in coming.
a) Attacks and threats against the leaders of Sintraminergética in the city of Valledupar (dept of Cesar).
b) A further increase in threats, tailings, harassments, spying on the union office and the house of Francisco Ramírez.
c) The management of Minercol Ltda represented by Eduardo Arce Caicedo – Liquidator – and Mrs Monica Illigde – Administrative Coordinator withdrew the protective vehicle and the petrol that they had supplied weekly to Francisco Ramírez.
d) The radio service of the bodyguards was suspended.
e) On the 5th of October 2006 the Administrative Department of Security (DAS) through a written letter signed by Omar Quintero informed Francisco Ramírez Cuellar of the decision by the Colombian government to withdraw his armour plated vehicle and give him a vehicle without armour plating leaving him at the mercy of any attack.
In is noteworthy that recently the DAS carried out a ten minute “security study” which concluded that level of risk was low. Furthermore such studies which have concluded that the risk was medium or low level have been carried out on trade unionists who were murdered days after their security measures were withdrawn or denied.
That the Colombian State comply with the protective measures awarded in favour of Francisco Ramírez Cuellar in compliance with the cautionary measures conceded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and consequently order that:
a) The armour-plated vehicle assigned to Francisco Ramírez for his security in his capacity as president of Sintraminercol be maintained.
b) The bodyguards be given automatic weapons and radio communication.
c) Order the company Minercol Ltda to return the vehicle assigned in compliance with the collective agreement signed between the workers and the workers union Sintraminercol.
d) Afford the necessary guarantees to Francisco Ramírez Cuellar to carry out his trade union activity freely.
e) Stop any order to carry out an attack on the life of Francisco Ramírez Cuellar, president of Sintraminercol.
To the representatives of the multinational companies that exploit the mining resources of Colombia, the “Aid Agencies” of the governments of Canada and the USA that they bring and end to their policy of aggression against the trade unions and their policy of destroying the social fabric of our nation.
To the International Community; that it demand of the Colombian government and the multinationals that they stop their genocide of the trade union movement, end the impunity in which these crimes remain and that they respect workers rights.
Sintraminercol, Sintramin, UNEB, USO, Human Rights Department CUT (national), Sintraminergética Branch El Paso, Fenaltrase, Fenasintrap, Funtraminergética, CUT (Bogotá and Cundinamarca region), Sintraelecol (Atlantic Coast), ECATE, NOMADESC, ACAVEVA, Sintraentemdiccol, Campaign Prohibido Olvidar, Organización WAYUU MUNSURAT, Sintradepartamento Antioquia,
Colombia, Bogota 4th of October 2006
Please send communiqués to the Colombian Authorities and the Swiss, Canadian and US Embassies with a copy to Sintraminercol.
US Ambassador in Colombia
President of the Republic
Vicepresident of the Republic
Minister of Mines and Energy
Minister of Social Protection.
Procurator General of the Nation
Public Defenders Office
Permanent Mission of Colombia To The United
Nations in Geneva.