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Building Bridges Radio-The Murders of Colombian Unionists Continue

by Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash Saturday, Nov. 16, 2002 at 6:28 AM

This 27 min radio program can be heard by clicking on the indymedia link. Building Bridges:Community & Labor Report is broadcast over WBAI,99.5fm in NYC -Mondays from 7-8PM EST. It is streamed live at http://www.2600.com/offthehook/hot2.ram


Building Bridges:
Your Community and Labor Report - Global Edition
Produced & Hosted by Mimi Rosenberg & Ken Nash
The Murders of Colombian Unionists Continues
with Francisco Ramiriz, President of SINTRAMINERCOL , the
Colombian Mineworkers union

No sooner had Francisco Ramiriz, returned to Columbia than another attempt was made on his life. Ramiriz is President of SINTRAMINERCOL , the Colombian Mineworkers Union. He had recently returned from a trip to the U.S. and Canada to publicize the plight of Colombian workers and gain support for their cause. Since 1986 over 3800 unionists have been killed by paramilitary
death squads in Colombia. During the last few five years the pace has increased to one killing every other day. The situation has only gotten worse in the last year since President Álvaro Uribe Vélez has taken power in Colombia.

The assassinations in the mineworkers union started soon after the union was organized and started protesting the terrible conditions in the mines owned by the Drummond corporation based in Birmingham, Alabama. Six mine worker union leaders have been killed to date. The Union has filed a suit with the International Labor Rights Fund against Drummond for complicity in the murders. A similar suit has been filed against the Coca Cola Corporation. The mineworkers and other unions in Columbia being so targeted by multinational corporations are receiving support from the AFL-CIO and other unions
throughout the world.


Francisco Ramirez, President of the Colombian mineworkers union, experienced another attempt on his life yesterday (see below), the
day after he returned to Colombia following a successful speaking tour in NY, Boston, & Montreal to publicize the Drummond Mining case. He is asking us to please write a short note to Pres. Alvaro Uribe and the> Minister of Mining & Energy to ask that they guarantee his safety.

President Uribe can be reached at auribe@presidencia.gov.co and the
mailing address for the minister of mines is below.

Problems began immediately upon my return. I have had to remain aT someone's house and only go out when absolutely necessary. Yesterday when I
went to see my son we were followed by a motorcycle with an armed
passenger.I had to duck down in the back seat to protect myself. Here in Colombia
the law states that the driver and the passenger on a motorcycle must
display the license number on their vest and on their helmet. These two were
not wearing the vest, and the license number on their helmets did not correspond to the number on the license plate. They followed us for a while,
and when they couldn*t see me any more in the back seat they decided to
leave. As I* m sure you understand, here in Colombia things have not changed, and this has obliged me to take further security measures and to try to find a way to leave the country again if things continue this way. In the
meantime, I would ask you to request that Congressman Tierney, Dan Kovalik, and all of you send letters to President Uribe and to the Minister of Mines asking that my life be protected and that our union be respected. In addition,
we are asking that the government cease measures to dissolve MINERCOL, the state mining agency, which is another tactic that they are using to> undermine our union and the legitimate protests of unarmed workers carrying out activities that are authorized by our laws.
> Please send letters to:
> President Alvaro Uribe Vélez
> Carrera 7 Calle 7
> Palacio de Nariño
> Bogotá, Colombia
> Luis Ernesto Mejia
> Ministro de Minas y Energía
> Centro Administrativo Nacional CAN
> Bogotá, Colombia

"Avi Chomsky" <achomsky@salemstate.edu>

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