2 November 2004
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The following is from the International Federation of
Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions
ICEM JOINS PROTEST TO COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT
Denying Entry to Unionists Confirms Colombia's Trade Union Harassment
The international trade union movement, including the
ICEM today expressed its outrage at the expulsion of four
international union representatives from Colombia on 30
October and 1 November, on the order of the government of
President Alvaro Uribe Velez. It is understood that the
Uribe government has drawn up a list of trade union
representatives banned from entering the country, and that
this list includes persons who took part in an
international solidarity mission* to Colombia in September,
to press the Uribe government to bring an end to the
killing of Colombian trade unionists and the other means of
anti-union repression which are rife in the country.
Colombia has had a notorious record of violence and
discrimination against trade unionists over many years,
with more than 50 trade unionists murdered already this
The four, Victor Baez Mosqueira, General Secretary of the
ICFTU regional organisation for the Americas ICFTU-ORIT,
Antonio Rodriguez Fritz (International Transport Workers'
Federation), Rodolfo Benitez (Union Network International)
and Cameron Duncan (Public Services International), were
due to attend an Americas region trade union coordination
meeting. Immigration officials detained them on arrival in
the country and expelled them, in contradiction to
Colombia's normal visa entry requirements. Three of them
had taken part in a meeting with President Uribe during the
September solidarity mission, where the President assured
the delegation of his government's full commitment to trade
union rights, and thanked them for their interest in the
situation inside the country.
In another development, union leaders from Great Britain,
Ireland and Spain who had arrived in Colombia to attend a
meeting of women trade unionists had their 60-day visas
cancelled and were permitted to stay only three days in the
The ICFTU and Global Union Federation partners including
the ICEM are writing to formally protest to President Uribe
at his government's actions, which constitute a "totally
unacceptable attempt to deny Colombian workers their
legitimate right to international representation,"
according to ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder, who added,
"The Colombian government has a responsibility to protect
trade unionists from violence and intimidation and to
ensure that fundamental rights, enshrined in International
Labour Organisation Conventions, are fully respected. This
action by the government is entirely in the wrong
direction, and we call upon President Uribe to restore the
right of entry to all those affected, and to face up to its
obligations under international law".
The expulsion of the trade union leaders will also be
brought formally to the International Labour Organisation,
which is this week examining a number of complaints from
the trade union movement over violations of freedom of
association in the country.
Global Unions' member organisations in countries
around the world will also be raising the case with their
national governments, and with intergovernmental and regional bodies
including the European Union. Meetings with the Colombian Ambassadors in
Brussels, Geneva and other cities are also being sought.
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