archivos de los protestos globales

Colombia: balance of September 16th peasant and workers strike

by CUT - CNC 9:29am Wed Sep 18 '02


As approved by the National Trade Union Executive, the strike of state workers and peasant organisations was carried out on 16 September 2002.

The Colombian social and trade union movement is happy to deliver to the Country and the International Community "A SHARE IN OUR VICTORY". The success was due to the participation of the workers involved in the strike, as well as the massive participation of workers from other social and popular sectors in the gigantic marches realised in all the major capitals of the country. Special mention must be made of the students, the unemployed, street sellers, estacionarios and community mothers.

According to the media, the demonstration held in Bogota in which 150,000 people participated surprised everyone. This massive demonstration shows the enormous dissatisfaction of the Colombian people with the economic, social and labour policies of the current government.

The success declared by the trade union movement is a result of the peaceful and civilised nature of the state workers and peasant strike.

There was not, on the part of the workers, a single act of violence to justify the repression of the public forces in some regions of the country.

In Bogota, 45 students were detained, a number of them brutally beaten.

In Cauca department an peasant march was prevented by means of violence.

In departments such as Sucre, Tolima and Cauca they detained representatives of some international NGOs who had been invited to come to the country by the campesino movement in order to act as observers of the agricultural strike.

The government announced that they would be expelled from the country under the rules of Decree 2002 and the "state of national emergency".

In response to the active participation of workers from the legal and aeronautical professions, the government declared the strikes illegal as a warning to the Colombian Trade Union Movement.

Faced with the government's refusal to listen or negotiate, on 20 September there will be a National Trade Union, Social and Popular forum with the aim of:

Discussing the issue to include in a list of demands to be presented to the government, as well as the possibility of realising a national strike.

Knowing the authoritarian and despotic nature of the government, as well as the imperative for the trade union movement to continue the struggle in the immediate future, we call on all democratic people and the international trade union movement to keep a close watch over Colombia in order to prevent the abuse of Colombian workers by the government of Alvaro Uribe.

Greetings Friends

Central Trade Union Federation of Colombia (CUT)


2. Detentions, confiscation of food supplies and vehicles and other acts of aggression against the campesino mobilisation

National Campesino Council for Rural Action (Consejo Nacional Campesino para la Acción Rural CNC)
Mobilisation Coordinators for Southwest Colombia (Coordinación Movilización del Suroccidente Colombiano)
Regional Campesino Council for Cundinamarca and South of Sabana (Consejo Regional Campesino de Cundinamarca y Sur de la Sabana)
Regional Campesino Council for the Coffee Heartland (Consejo Regional Campesino del Eje Cafetero)
Campesino Coordination for Tolima (Coordinadora Campesina del Tolima)

Bogota, 16 September 2002

Press Conference:
Location: Clle 16, 666 Of. 2506 Avianca Building
Headquarters of the Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective
Time: 3pm
Date: Monday 16 September 2002

The military and police forces are obstructing our right to protest in Cauca, Sucre, Tolima and Caldas as well as other regions, paramilitary groups are setting up road blocks and intimidating the population, putting people's integrity at risk. Although the government authorised the mobilisation and the United Nations requested guarantees and protection for the demonstrators, civil and military authorities have not done enough to protect and guarantee the right of the campesino population to mobilise and protest.

Last week, human rights organisations had recourse to the Early Warning system because paramilitary groups had declared that demonstrators would be military targets.

In different regions of the country both campesinos and international observers have been detained, as happened for example in Chalan in the department of Sucre today in the morning. In the Plaza del Pueblo, Chalan Infantry Battalion 5 is holding Daniel Busto Gutierrez and Ana Andres Ablanedo who belong to the Spanish non-governmental organisation, SODEPAZ, as well as the FENSUAGRO general secretary, Rudy Robles.

In La Maria-Piendamo, and in Cauca, the army has detained a large number of campesinos.

In Tolima, the main access routes to the main highways have been blocked by the army and 7,000 campesinos are being detained by the army around Icononzo.

In Pasca, Cundinamarca, the army put up posters prohibiting the campesino demonstration.

Barely 15 minutes from Popayan, in El Tambo, paramilitaries have set up a road block where they are confiscating food supplies, stopping the transit of vehicles and repeating their death threats against anyone who participates in the march.

Near to Balboa, Cauca, they have set up another block on the route campesinos are obliged to take, which has prevented the demonstrators from continuing their march.

In Totoro, the army and police stopped the mobilisation from Inza and Paez.

In Chalan jurisdiction, Sucre department, and as well as arrests by the army, paramilitaries forced citizens to stay in their houses under threat of death if they participated in the marches. These and other acts of intimidation and violation of the right to protest and free expression will be detailed at the Press Conference this afternoon.


The Human Rights Department of the Central Trade Union Federation of Colombia (CUT)


To the national and international public that the government of Colombia enacted Decree 2002 in order to lay the legal foundations for the State of National Emergency and in so doing instituted the measures to violate political and democratic freedoms and turn 15 departments, more than half the country, into “rehabilitation zones” under military rule.

A long time before this, trade unions and other social organisations were planning a general strike for 16 September 2002, but the strike was stigmatised at the highest levels of government. A specific example in point is the Minister of Defence, Doctor Martha Lucia Ramirez de Rincon who said the guerillas were behind the strike, putting social and trade union leaders at risk of being targeted by the paramilitaries.

Then the government announced a packet of measures to take against anyone who participated in the strike, which we consider to be State Terrorism designed to further intimidate the people. The result has been that today, 16 September, the police and the army abused a vast number of strikers in different towns and cities:

Bogota: the Secretary of the Human Rights Department of the CUT Youth, comrade Mauricio Rubiano, was detained. He was moved to several different locations but as a result of the unconditional support of different social organisations, he was released before they were able to take legal action against him but not before they had subjected him to mistreatment.

70 students from the Youth March in Bogota were detained by the police, and at the time of this communication we still have no knowledge of the whereabouts of comrade Alexandra Lasso from the Surcolombia University (Neiva-Huila) and the student William Bernal was seriously injured.

In the department of Tolima on 15 September, a bar was raided where there were a number of campesinos who were participating in the march. Their food was confiscated. In addition three campesinos who were on their way from La Herrera municipality to Rio Blanco municipality were detained, four campesinos from El Espinal municipality and five from Cajamarca municiplaity and in the town of Ibague various marches from the different municipalities were not permitted to pass through. The army also prohibited the exit of vehicles in almost all municipalities and is threatening campesinos who try to find other routes. In the west of this department the army and police have confiscated food supplies belonging to the peaceful peasant demonstration.

In the department of Huila, three peasantss travelling from San Luis municipality to Palermo municipality were detained, and another three campesinos who were heading from San Agustin municipality to the town of Neiva. In addition none of the campesino demonstrators were allowed to enter the town of Neiva.

In the department of Sucre, Chalan municipality, on 15 September, Rubel Robles, General Secretary of the Departmental Union of Agricultural Workers of Sucre, and international delegates from the Spanish NGO SOLDEPAZ PACHAKUTTI, comrades Ana Maria Andera Ablanedo and Daniel Busto Gutierrez, were detained and deported.

In addition, paramilitaries are forcing campesinos to stay in their houses and not march, under the threat of a massacre. The army has set up road blocks in the municipality of Coloso where they are intimidating the campesino population and announcing that they will not allow social protest.

In the departments of Cundinamarca and Boyaca, the campesino youth and students, heading from Tunja to Bogota to take part in the protests organised by the trade unions, were prevented from marching. Roads have been heavily militarised and there are provocative armed helicopter overflights.

In Sumapaz, the army is intimidating the campesino population and making arbitrary detentions, while people in civilian clothing with no identification are moving freely among the people and trying to detain (disappear) some campesino leaders. In the municipality of Viota (Cundinamarca) comrade Nelson Reina, the treasurer of Fensuagroand member of Sintrapreagricun, was detained.

In the department of Cauca, paramilitary groups, with the open complicity of military and police authorities, prevented the peaceful march of peasants from the municipalities of La Vega, Argelia, Balboa, Corinto, Piendamo and El Tambo. Paramilitary groups set up road blocks in some places where they confiscated food and immobilised vehicles and issued threats to anyone who participated in the march. The army has detained a large number of campesinos in La Maria-Piendamo.

In the department of Caldas, around 90 families belonging to indigenous communities have been detained, just because they had come to the demonstration. Paramilitary groups have announced that they will assassinate anyone who participates.

All of this amounts to an attack on social protest through the confiscation of food supplies, blockading municipalities to prevent the campesino marches from going to the capitals, detentions and assaults.

This communique, issued at 5pm, requests you to put pressure on the Colombian government to respect political and democratic freedoms and release all those detained.

Director of the Administrative Division

Bogota, 16 September 2002
Central Trade Union Federation of Colombia (CUT)
Registered organisation: 01118, 13 April 1987


[Translated from Spanish by Colombia Peace Association]

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