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Delegation Tours Colombia, Hosted by Oil Workers Union

By Tom Burke

A Colombia Action Network delegation is currently touring in Colombia, hosted by the Oil Workers’ Union and REINICIAR, an important human rights organization that reports to the United Nations. The Colombia Action Network delegation departed from the U.S. in late June. They will hear firsthand about the successful strike by the Oil Workers Union against the national oil company ECOPETROL to stop privatization. The Oil Workers Union (USO) is the most important union in Colombia. Oil is one of the main reasons the Pentagon has 1200 U.S. military advisors and Special Forces fighting in Colombia, and is spending $98 million to guard Occidental Petroleum’s pipeline.

The Colombia Action Network (CAN) works to stop and is investigating the effects of Plan Colombia, the U.S. government’s military aid package for the war against poor peasants and working people. Over $3 billion in U.S. tax dollars have gone to pay for the Colombian military and private contractors (mercenaries) that repress the people’s movements. The U.S. government is funding a dirty war against a popular rebellion by the insurgents of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) in the countryside. The FARC control nearly half the country’s territory and are growing more popular in the cities. The FARC demands an end to poverty, oppression and exploitation by foreign companies, rich businessmen and narco-traffickers.

The delegation will see how George Bush, like Clinton before him, is funding a dirty war that uses chemical fumigation to drive poor peasants off their land; meanwhile big narco-traffickers’ plantations remain untouched. The delegation will hear from human rights lawyers, trade unionists, peasants’ association leaders and women community organizers about the paramilitary death squads and their partners in the Colombian military who murder and intimidate whole villages, towns and cities. The paramilitary death squads have killed, on average, three trade unionists every week for the past eight years.

Representing the Colombia Action Network are students and solidarity activists from across the country who have been leading the Campaign to Boycott Killer Coke, by raising awareness and taking action to spread the ‘boycott Coca-Cola’ theme across U.S. campuses. The delegation is meeting with the leaders of the militant union SINALTRAINAL, who have had nine of their union leaders murdered by Coca-Cola’s death squads. No one has been brought to justice and Coca-Cola continues to deny responsibility, despite eyewitness evidence. The students and activists of the CAN will be organizing meetings and report backs from their trip during the summer and fall.

Contact the Colombia Action Network at:

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