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Home Facts Instability in Latin America Labor Leaders and Enemy Targets of SOA Terror
Labor Leaders and Enemy Targets of SOA Terror PDF Print E-mail
Union organizers are among the primary targets of SOA violence in Colombia. SOA graduates have been directly responsible for the slaying of striking workers and the killing of union organizers.

In 1996, the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the SOA. These manuals advocated interrogation techniques such as false imprisonment, torture and execution. According to these manuals, these techniques should be used on those who…
  • support “union organizing or recruiting”,
  • distribute “propaganda in favor of the interests of workers",
  • “Sympathize with demonstrators or strikes”.
  • make "accusations that the government has failed to meet the basic needs of the people"

Colombia: Deadly Nation for Unions

The Associated Press

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - Colombia was the most dangerous nation for union members again last year, with 201 killings or disappearances reported, or 90 percent of the worldwide total, according to an annual survey released Tuesday.

The total in Colombia, plagued by drug traffickers and a decades-old guerrilla war, was more than 30 percent higher than the 153 reported in 2000, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions said. That pushed the global figure up to 223, 14 more than in 2000.

Public sector union members in Colombia were targeted the most, accounting for about 65 percent of those killed or missing. The ICFTU attributed that to their opposition to privatization of state-owned industries.

``Trade union activists are being systematically eliminated,'' the report said, adding at another point, ``The entire country has been swept by this anti-union violence.''

While the Colombian government denies responsibility, the report charged most of the killings were ``carried out by paramilitary groups which enjoy the tacit complicity of the security forces.''

Alvaro Delgado, an analyst with the Center of Investigation and Popular Education in Bogota, Colombia, said rebels and their paramilitary foes target labor leaders because they represent groups which permit debate and discussion.

``These armed groups do not want debate or discussion. They want to impose their own rule,'' Delgado said.

The survey also found more than 4,000 trade unionists were arrested worldwide, 1,000 injured and 10,000 fired.

It said ``anti-union repression'' was especially bad in the developing world, citing such countries as China, Indonesia, South Korea and Myanmar among Asian nations and Zimbabwe and Swaziland in Africa.

In Central America, it cited firings and harassment of unionized workers at banana plantations in Costa Rica and Guatemala. Strikes and demonstrations multiplied in Argentina because of the economic collapse, it said, resulting in numerous clashes with police.

``The United States and Canada are not above reproach when it comes to the respect of trade union rights,'' the report added.

President Bush was criticized for rescinding a Clinton administration executive order protecting the rights of contract workers on construction projects.

The report also criticized new legislation in the Canadian province of British Columbia that make it ``virtually impossible'' for nurses and education workers to strike legally.

Civil servants in western Europe also face restrictions on their collective bargaining rights, the report said.

Some legislative improvements have been seen in central and eastern Europe, it said, but anti-union activities persist in countries ranging from Czech Republic to Belarus, it said.

The ICFTU has affiliates in 148 countries and territories, which represent 157 million workers.

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