URGENT ACTION: 6 March - 4 trade unionists assassinated, victims demand Uribe sacks advisor Print
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Urgent Actions
Monday, 17 March 2008 12:46

Four trade union leaders have been assassinated in the week of the 6 March protests.

 

Urgent Action ENGLISH

Foreign Office Promotes Colombian Counter-Insurgency

Accion Urgente ESPAÑOL

 

6 March: The dismissal of José Obdulio Gaviria

Iván Cepeda Castro * 

El Espectador  14 March 2008

 

In the next few days I, with those individuals and organisations who would like to add their names, will lodge the following petition.

Señor President of the Republic, the below signed citizens and organisations, in use of our constitutional right to address the authorities with respectful petitions, request the dismissal of your adviser José Obdulio Gaviria.

As you know, on 6 March hundreds of thousands of people participated in events in102 cities in Colombia and around the world in solidarity with the victims of the paramilitaries and the crimes of the State. By means of a public communiqué, the Government pointed that it did not support this demonstration, but offered guarantees for the programmed events to take place. Nevertheless, Mr. Gaviria made public declarations that affirmed that neither you nor he would participate in a march “convened by the FARC”. In spite of the organisers of 6 March requesting that these calumnious assertions be officially withdrawn, no Government spokesmen did so.

This situation generated an atmosphere of increasing insecurity. On 11 February 2008, the day after Gaviria’s declaration, a pronouncement was made by the [paramilitary] Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia that also affirmed that the march was instigated by the guerrillas.  Then on 13 February threats started against organisations promoting the day of action in Nariño. On 28 February, individuals shot at the apartment of Adriana González, march organiser in Pereira.

Four trade union leaders have been assassinated in the week of the 6 March protests.

Carlos Burbano, vice-president of the National Hospitalworkers  Union was disappeared on 9 March in San Vicente del Caguán. He had led the local  6 March demonstration. His corpse was found at the municipal rubbish dump with his faced disfigured with acid.

In Caquetá the preparations for 6 March were frustrated when General Oscar Naranjo affirmed that a FARC leaflet calling for demonstrations had been found. General Naranjo did not mention that the actual demonstration organisers had denounced parallel calls by armed groups. Women from Caquetá who were going to take in a national march of displaced people decided not to come because of the fear spread by the official announcement.

Libardo Pedrozo, one of the organisers of the displaced peoples march, was threatened. On 12 March threats were made against 28 human rights defenders and several social organisations. These were signed by the group called the ‘Black Eagles’ that announced it “will be implacable” against the convenors of 6 March. 

All these circumstances demonstrate the continuity in the sinister actions of the paramilitary structures and those who carry out state crimes. Their violent reaction is to the massive citizens’ repudiation they were given on 6 March. But besides, the Government has responsibility for this situation. The declarations made by José Obdulio Gaviria generated a propitious atmosphere for violence that has cost the lives of tour trade unionists. We will initiate legal proceedings against him. Further, we ask you Mr President, to dismiss him: the initiation of violence is a serious crime.

(*) spokesperson for Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado (National Movement of Victims of State Crime)

 

Assassinated Trade Unionists in the week of 6 March

Carmen Cecilia Carvajal, teacher. Killed 4 March, in Ocaña.

Leonidas Gómez Rozo, member of the bankworkers union, Unión Nacional de Empleados Bancarios (Uneb), president of the CITY-BANK Branco. Killed on 5 March, in Bogotá.

Gildardo Gómez Alzate, teacher and activist of the Asociación de Institutores de Antioquia (Adida). Killed 7 March, in Medellín.   

Carlos Burbano, vice-president of the Hospitalworkers Union, Asociación Nacional de Trabajadores Hospitalarios. Killed 11 March, San Vicente del Caguán.

See images of 6 March mobilisations in Colombia and worldwide at http://www.movimientodevictimas.org/

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION / ACCION RECOMENDADA

Write to the President Alvaro Uribe Velez along the following lines:

“I/we supported the day of action on 6 March 2008 against paramilitarism and state crimes in Colombia.

We believe that it was completely wrong for your Adviser José Obdulio Gaviria to state that 6 March was “convened by the FARC”, putting the members of the Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado and other social organisations who actually convened 6 March, in grave danger.

We are appalled that four trade unionists organising 6 March have  been assassinated;  

Carmen Cecilia Carvajal, teacher. Killed 4 March, in Ocaña.

Leonidas Gómez Rozo, member of the bankworkers union, Unión Nacional de Empleados Bancarios (Uneb), president of the CITY-BANK Branco. Killed on 5 March, in Bogotá.

Gildardo Gómez Alzate, teacher and activist of the Asociación de Institutores de Antioquia (Adida). Killed 7 March, in Medellín.   

Carlos Burbano, vice-president of the Hospitalworkers Union, Asociación Nacional de Trabajadores Hospitalarios. Killed 11 March, San Vicente del Caguán.

 

We urge you to pay full attention to the petition of Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado, and support their call for the dismissal of José Obdulio Gaviria.”

 

Send to your local Colombian Embassy.

In the UK This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; with copies to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 

Foreign Office Promotes Colombian Counter-Insurgency

Wilton Park is a conference centre in the Sussex countryside. It is also a wing of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). From 13 -16 March the FCO, in conjunction with NATO and Canada’s ‘Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force’ (START) hosted a Wilton Park high level meeting entitled “Meeting The Challenges Of Counter-Insurgency And Stabilisation Operations: Strategic Issues And Options”.

Colombia’s Vice Minister of Defence Juan Carlos Pinzón addressed the conference on the theme of “Colombia and Counter-Insurgency: Strategy, Accomplishments, Way Forward”. His talk was in the13 March session on ‘dealing with complex conflict environments’ which compares counter-insurgency fighting in Colombia with Iraq. Pinzón’s fellow panelist was Emma Sky, Special Advisor to Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, Vice Chief of Staff US Army and former Commanding General, Multi-National Corps in Iraq.

The Uribe government has been condemned by Colombia’s Latin American neighbours for its raid into Ecuador on 1 March in an operation that killed 24 FARC guerrillas, including the organisation’s no 2 ‘Raul Reyes’. According to the Wilton Park conference programme Pinzón and Sky addressed “In what ways do the trans-national and trans-dimensional characteristics of modern insurgencies affect classic counter-insurgency goals”.

Then on 6 March victims of paramilitary atrocities and state crime in Colombia held demonstrations across the country. A government spokesman José Obdulio Gaviria stigmatized the event on national radio as being “convened by the FARC”, an invitation for the paramilitaries to eliminate the organisers, the National Movement of Victims of State Crime. Four trade unionists involved in organizing the marches have since been assassinated. Perhaps these assassinations feature among Uribe’s ‘strategy and accomplishments’?

Coming a month after revelations of UK Foreign Minister Kim Howells being happily photographed with the High Mountain Brigades (see The Guardian 11 February 2008), the Wilton Park conference is further evidence not only of the Labour government’s continuing collaboration with state crimes in Colombia, but implicates it in the transnational destabilization of the Andean region. This is disingenuously called counter-insurgency, but the underlying motive is directed at securing the area’s enormous potential in natural resources for British and other multinational corporations.

http://www.wiltonpark.org.uk/themes/defence/pastconferences.aspx

 

 

6 March: La destitución de José Obdulio Gaviria

Iván Cepeda Castro *

El Espectador  14 de marzo de 2008

 

El siguiente derecho de petición lo radicaré en los próximos días, acompañado de las firmas de las personas y organizaciones que quieran suscribirlo. Señor Presidente de la República, los ciudadanos y organizaciones abajo firmantes, haciendo uso de nuestro derecho constitucional de dirigirnos a las autoridades haciendo peticiones respetuosas, queremos solicitarle la destitución de su consejero José Obdulio Gaviria. Como es de su conocimiento, el pasado 6 de marzo cientos de miles de personas participaron en actos en 102 ciudades de Colombia y del mundo, en solidaridad con las víctimas de los paramilitares y de los crímenes de Estado. Mediante un comunicado público, el Gobierno señaló que no respaldaba esta convocatoria, pero que ofrecía garantías para llevar a cabo los actos programados. No obstante, el señor Gaviria hizo declaraciones públicas en las que afirmaba que ni Usted ni él participarían en una marcha “convocada por las FARC”. A pesar de que los organizadores de los actos del 6 de marzo solicitamos que se desmintiera oficialmente estas calumniosas aseveraciones, ningún vocero del Gobierno lo hizo.

Esta situación generó un ambiente de creciente inseguridad. El 11 de febrero de 2008, al día siguiente de las declaraciones del señor Gaviria, se dio a conocer un pronunciamiento de las Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia en el que también se afirmaba que la marcha era instigada por la guerrilla. El 13 de febrero aparecieron en Nariño amenazas contra las asociaciones promotoras de la jornada. El 28 de febrero, individuos dispararon contra el apartamento de Adriana González, organizadora de la manifestación en Pereira.

Después de los actos del 6 de marzo, en una semana cuatro líderes sindicales han sido asesinados. El 9 de marzo fue desaparecido Carlos Burbano, vicepresidente de la Asociación Nacional de Trabajadores Hospitalarios en San Vicente del Caguán, y quien había liderado la organización del acto del 6 en esa localidad. Su cadáver fue hallado en el basurero municipal con el rostro desfigurado con acido. En el Caquetá muchos de los preparativos para el 6 se vieron frustrados luego de que el general Oscar Naranjo afirmó en una rueda de prensa que había sido encontrado un volante en el que las FARC invitaban a las manifestaciones en ese departamento. El general Naranjo hizo ese anuncio sin aclarar que las organizaciones que habíamos impulsado la iniciativa condenamos las convocatorias paralelas de grupos armados. Mujeres que desde el Caquetá iban a tomar parte en la Marcha Nacional de los Desplazados, decidieron no venir por temor a los efectos del anuncio oficial. Luego de la marcha de los desplazados, fue amenazado uno de sus coordinadores, Libardo Pedrozo. El pasado 12 de marzo, llegaron amenazas contra 28 defensores de derechos humanos y un conjunto de organizaciones sociales. Están firmadas por un grupo que se hace llamar ‘Águilas Negras’ que anuncia que “será implacable” con quienes invitaron a las manifestaciones del 6 de marzo.

Todas estas circunstancias demuestran la continuidad de la acción siniestra de las estructuras paramilitares, y también de quienes ejecutan crímenes de Estado. Su reacción violenta obedece al masivo repudio ciudadano que recibieron el 6 de marzo. Pero además esta situación compromete la responsabilidad del Gobierno. Las declaraciones que hizo José Obdulio Gaviria generaron un ambiente propicio para la violencia que ya ha cobrado la vida de cuatro sindicalistas. Contra él instauraremos acciones judiciales. Pero además, le solicitamos a Usted, señor presidente, que lo destituya: la incitación a la violencia es un grave delito.

 

Sindicalistas Asasinados durante la semana del 6 de marzo

Carmen Cecilia Carvajal, profesora, 4 de marzo, en Ocaña.

Leonidas Gómez Rozo, integrante de la Unión Nacional de Empleados Bancarios (Uneb), presidente del sindicato del Banco CITY-BANK, 5 de marzo, en Bogotá.

Gildardo Gómez Alzate, educador activista de la Asociación de Institutores de Antioquia (Adida), 7 de marzo, en Medellín.  

Carlos Burbano, sindicalista, 11 de marzo, San Vicente del Caguán.

Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Es