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Colombian union leader Nidia Quintero speaks in Chicago

By staff

Chicago, IL – Trade unionists and solidarity activists gathered to hear Nidia Quintero, Secretary General of FENSUAGRO, speak at Chicago’s United Electrical hall on April 6. Quintero leads Colombia’s largest agricultural workers union and was in Chicago to attend the Labor Notes conference. She spoke about Colombian workers peasants and why international support for the peace process in Colombia is important.

Quintero said, “Many past attempts at peace have failed because of right-wing violence. When the right wing feels the eyes of the entire world upon them, we hope this will make a difference.”

Quintero highlighted the importance of women and youth participation in movements for social change. She stated, “Students in Colombia are important in resisting privatization of education and Colombian youth are active in the Patriotic Marches.”

Quintero brought a statement of solidarity with her in support of the Chicago Teacher’s Union’s (CTU) one-day strike. The strike on the day of Quintero’s arrival saw over 25,000 people at the downtown rally and march.

The statement reads in part, “These struggles deserve backing. Therefore, teachers, students, parents and friends of the struggle, receive from Colombia, in the name of the rural communities and agricultural workers who have always strived and continue to strive for better conditions of life with dignity and peace.”

Kait McIntyre worked to bring Nidia Quintero to speak in Chicago. On the day of the Teachers Strike, April 1, McIntyre was the emcee and organizer of a 500-person solidarity rally at University of Illinois-Chicago. She explained, “It is the U.S. government that exacerbated the situation in Colombia. The U.S. trains death squads that target progressive people in Colombia, such as labor unionists, students and teachers. This event was special because it gave those progressive elements a voice.”

McIntyre concluded, “We are hopeful for the Colombian peace process. We must work for and demand that the U.S. stop funding the Colombian military and its death squads. Our movements, including trade unions, must show solidarity, push for peace, and ensure justice for all.”

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