Trade union leaders have rejected government claims that human rights and trade unionist protection has improved. The rejection denigrates symbolic gestures aimed at securing a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States. The trade union leaders say the FTA will help multinational companies over Colombian workers.
In April, the Washington, DC-based National Security Archive posted a 5500-page document tranche detailing the extent of Cincinnati-based food giant Chiquita’s dealings with Colombian death squad United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC). The documents shed further light on the relationship between multinationals and Colombia’s murderous right-wing paramilitaries.
Colombian daily El Espectador reported on May 18 that the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice ruled the infamous “FARC files” as inadmissible evidence in court, as they were obtained illegally. The ruling refers to supposed documents acquired from the laptops of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader Raul Reyes who was killed in the March 2008 Colombian military bombing raid of a guerrilla camp in Ecuador.
No sooner had the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) released its dossier The FARC Files: Venezuela, Ecuador and the Secret Archive of Raul Reyes on May 10, that the international media was once again claiming more proof that Venezuelan government links to terrorism had been uncovered. Almost none mention that the entire basis of the document were files that Interpol and US and Colombian officials have admitted are dubious at best.
A number of left groups in Venezuela and solidarity groups internationally have expressed concern over the April 23 decision by Venezuelan authorities to arrest well-known Colombian journalist and supporter of the Venezuelan revolution, Joaquin Perez Becerra. Perez Becerra was arrested when he tried to enter the country through Caracas Airport. He was deported two days later to neighbouring Colombia to face trial for supposed “terrorism” charges in Colombia.
US coal giant Drummond paid right-wing paramilitaries accused of murder and human rights abuses for protection of its Colombian operations, Colombiareports.com said on March 16. The article said the information was revealed in secret diplomatic cables sent between 2006-2010 released by WikiLeaks to the Colombian paper El Espectador,
Unionists and solidarity activists rallied outside the Colombian consulate in Sydney on December 13 to denounce the fact that Colombia remains the most dangerous place in the world for trade unionists. The protest, called to coincide with International Human Rights week, was organised by the Sydney branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and supported by Peace and Justice for Colombia (PJFC). The initiative for the protest came in the wake of the recent visit by Colombian trade unionist Parmenio Poveda.
Carly Dawson is a volunteer with Peace Brigades International (PBI), a non-government organisation that “protects human rights and promotes nonviolent transformation of conflicts”. The organisation was formed during the 1980s and its first mission was to help counter the war in Nicaragua that was waged by US-backed Contras against the left-wing Sandinista government Dawson recently returned to Australia after 12 months volunteer work with PBI in Colombia. She spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Aaron Roden. * * *
A November 4 World Bank and International Finance Corporation report, Doing Business 2011: Making a Difference for Entrepreneurs, ranked Colombia as the 39th most “business friendly environment” in the world. Colombia’s “Doing Business” score, which measures how much the country has improved for business, showed Colombia as the best improving economy in the region. Missing from the report were the more than 500 unionists killed in Colombia over the past eight years, making up 60% of all unionists killed globally.
Venezuela’s decision to re-establish diplomatic, political and economic relations with Colombia on August 10 was only possible thanks to a range of circumstances and actions. Venezuela cut ties on July 22 in the face of allegations made by Colombia at the Organisation of American States (OAS) of alleged Venezuelan support for left-wing Colombian guerrillas. The Venezuelan government said the allegations were part of an attempt, backed by the US, to spark a war between the two nations.