NUPGE president James Clancy writes Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to demand direct intervention against murderous paramilitaries.
Ottawa (18 May 2010) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is urging Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to take direct action to protect trade unionists and other activists targeted by paramilitary goons in his South American country.
In a letter to Uribe, copied to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other Canadian political leaders, NUPGE president James Clancy says several "allies and friends" of the Canadian trade union movement received death threats earlier this month from a group known as the Black Eagles New Generation.
"We understand that organizations and individuals threatened include the leaders of the Afro-Colombian community councils of La Toma and Buenos Aires (Cauca), the Black Communities Process, the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), NOMADESC, national public university workers' union (SINTRAUNICOL) and the regional labour union CUT (Valle)," Clancy writes.
"Among those threatened is Berenice Celeyta with the organization NOMADESC. NUPGE and its Component, the British Columbia Government and General Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE), have been supporters of NOMADESC for a number of years. We find the use of threats against Berenice Celeyta very disturbing," he says.
"I am urging you and your government to take every possible step to ensure the safety and security of these individuals and their organizations."
Clancy says the same individuals received earlier threats last October and December, and despite promises by Colombian authorities to take action, the threats and violence have continued.
"As recently as last month, the Black Eagles paramilitaries were involved in the massacre of eight Afro-Colombian miners and left a ninth person wounded in La Toma, Cauca. Obviously these threats must be taken very seriously," Clancy says.
"It is troublesome that this latest paramilitary threat comes at the same time as the Canadian Parliamentary Committee on International Trade is considering Bill C-2, the implementing legislation for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA)," he adds. "I cannot help but wonder if the threats are intended to silence critics of the proposed agreement."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE