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  Issue No 122 Official Organ of LaborNet 07 December 2001  




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Bogota Terror

The assassination of a Colombian unionist has prompted international outrage.




Human rights and social organisations, trade unions, members of the National and International Human Rights Campaign Against Privatisation and the Criminalisation of Social Protest repudiate and condemn the vile assassination committed on our comrade and friend AURY SARÁ MARRUGO and

We urge the national Colombian and international community to demand that the Colombian government puts an end to the genocide that is being committed against trade union leaders in Colombia.

The facts:

1. On Friday 30th November 2001 AURY SARÁ MARRUGO, President of the Cartagena Branch of the oilworkers union USO was at 8.35am travelling from his home to the USO office in Cartagena, accompanied by his bodyguard ENRIQUE AREYANO, in their car registration number CGS 897. He

was stopped by several armed men from three vehicles (blue and grey cars and a red van) who forced him to get out of his vehicle and took him off to an unknown destination.

2. On 3rd December 2001 the self named Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) [lit. United Self Defence of Colmbia] admitted having trade union leader AURY SARÁ MARRUGO in their power and they demanded the presence of Camilo Gómez, High Commissioner for Peace. According to this group

which communicated with the Commissioner through the internet, the union leader "... has been found guilty of multiple crimes by the tribunal, including kidnapping, cattle robbery, extortion and terrorism". They

assured that "We are only disposed to hand him over to you in person in one of our camps in the jungle and then you will explain to us what you are really doing as Commissioner".

3. At about 10.30am today, 5th December 2001, as humanitarian actions were being taken by USO to liberate the comrade, AURY SARÁ MARRUGO was found dead along with his bodyguard.

4. This vile assassination of our comrade adds to the detention by order of the Special Attorney 241 in Bogotá on 16th October, one day before the national stoppage that USO had prepared to protest against the violation of the human rights of their members, the following USO leaders:

* LUIS VIANA ex-president of the USO refinery section, who is now retired, in Santa Marta;

* EDGAR MOJICA president of USO Bogotá, in Bogotá

* RAMON RANGEL Human Rights and Peace Commission of USO;

* JAIRO CALDERON ex-leader of USO Barranca currently in the

administration of state oil corporation Ecopetrol;

* FERNANDO ACUÑA ex-presodent of Fedepetrol and sacked by Ecopetrol;

* ALONSO MARTINEZ worker at Ecopetrol who was displaced due to death threats, an activist also detained in Bogotá.

5. Previously there were the assassinations of ARTURO ESCALANTE MOROS in the town of Tibú in Northe Santander Department. That same day FERNANDO LERMA a temporary worker at the oil refinery in Barrancabermeja, Santander Department, was assassinated.

6. Moreover there have been constant death threats and murder attempts on HERNANDO HERNANDEZ, who is the National President of USO. Several other leaders of the union have been followed. In May 2001, EDGAR MOJICA, President of the Bogotá Branch of USO and DANIEL RICO,Vice-President of FUNTRAENERGÉTICA and Press and Publicity Secretary of

USO's National Executive Committee received threatening telephone calls at the office of USO's negotiating commission and at the Bogotá USO headquarters, where it was announced that there would be attempts on their lives if they continued with trade union activity. The suspects

who made the calls identified themselves as members of the "Capital Block" of the self styled AUC.

7. In June and July 2001 USO leaders in Bogotá reported to the authorities that they were permanently being followed by individuals on high capacity motorcycles, and that this surveillance continued in the immediate vicinity of the trade union office and the Ecopetrol headquarters from several vehicles, particularly by men in a grey Toyota

van without number plates who carried hand guns and rifles.

8. Then the report of death threats on the USO leaders lead the Bogotá police and the special security unit SIJIN to carry out a risk study, which concluded that it was urgently necessary to set up a security scheme for the threatened leaders. This consisted of a vehicle to move around in, two bodyguards that they trusted, arms, bullet proof vests, communications, and walky-talkies linked into the system used by trade unionists and human rights defenders. However nether Ecopetrol nor the Interior Ministry provided the necessary guarantees for the security of the threatened leaders. On the contrary the persecution grew worse and has reached the dramatic point of these two terribly sad murders.


a. That the Colombian state suspends whatever order of execution or assassination, arbitrary detention, forced disappearance that its officials are intending to carry out against the lives and security of leaders of the Unión Sindical Obrera - United Workers Union and other

trade unionists and human rights defenders in Colombia.

b. That investigations are set in motion to identify and punish in exemplary fashion the intellectual and material authors of the assassination of AURY SARÁ MARRUGO and his bodyguard ENRIQUE AREYANO as well as the other assassinations and forced disappearances against trade

union and social leaders in the country.

c. That all necessary operations are carried out to arrest members of the Autdefensas Unidas de Colombia who admitted publicly that they had AURY SARÁ MARRUGO and ENRIQUE AREYANO in their power.

d. We demand that the Colombian state guarantees the free exercise of trade union activity, and the promotion and defence of human rights by the different social, union and human rights organisations, in which USO is included.

e. That the results are given publicly of the investigations into those responsible for the genocide against the working class, the trade union, social and human rights activists and leaders.

Colombia, 5th December 2001


*    All the latest international news

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 122 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Reality Bytes
Labor's IT spokeswoman Kate Lundy on how a third Howard Government will hurt the IT industry.
*  Unions: My Way or the Highway
Since 1997, workers employed by Serco/Great Southern Railways, have been locked in a struggle with their employer to have their choice of industrial instrument recognised.
*  Legal: Three Degrees of Contract
Marian Baird argues there is a need to more fully understand what workers, employers and our society expect from the employment relationship.
*  International: Bogota Terror
The assassination of a Colombian unionist has prompted international outrage.
*  History: Freedom or 'Federation'?
Mark Hearn and Greg Patmore argue that the journey to federation was not a one-way street.
*  Health: Wearing the Right Genes to Work?
Matt Brooks tracks the DNA trail to discover genetic testing in the workplace is already here.
*  Satire: Demidenko Releases New Book About Her Life As Afghan Refugee
Controversial author Helen Demidenko has written a brand new novel based on her gripping true life experiences as an Afghan refugee.
*  Review: Can Blinky Bill Save Unions?
Neale Towart browses the kiddies' shelves to find an Australian icon with a union-friendly message.

»  Unions Raise Labor Stakes
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»  BHP Steel Workers Fight for Security
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»  Workers Call for Patrons Before Pokies
»  Overtime Deal Helps Rural Hospitals
»  Writers in New Chapter for Unionism
»  CFMEU Backs Standards Inquiry
»  Mining Company Moves To Ban Fiji Film
»  Unions Choir Sings Up Storm
»  2002: Where to Now?
»  Activists Notebook

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  Apology to Tim Harcourt
»  Tom is Gobsmacked
»  Who was Gordon Freeth?
»  More Compo Feedback
»  Trains of Treasure
»  The Great Tuckpointer Debate Revived

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