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CUPE has written to Colombian president Dr. Álvaro Uribe Vélez to protest the recent kidnapping and torture of Andres Damian Florez Rodriquez and to support the demands of SINALTRAINAL, the trade union representing workers at the Coca Cola bottling plant.

As SINALTRAINAL president Luis Javier Correa Suarez has stated, this recent act of terror reveals that Coca Cola has a policy of violating human rights. The violation against a young college student and the son of a Coca Cola worker and leader of the union would be viewed as intolerable in other democratic countries.

“We are also concerned about the ongoing threats against other unions,grassroots social movements and Polo Democratico Alternativo (PDA) candidates,” the letter said signed by National President Paul Moist and National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Genereux.

On Oct. 28, Colombia will hold municipal and departmental elections. “This will be a test of your government’s ability to maintain full respect for the electoral process and free political participation without coercion or threats by armed groups, particularly paramilitaries,” the letter added. “These pervasive threats by the so-called Aguilas Negras paramilitary group raise serious questions about the government’s so-called peace and demobilization process.”

The CUPE leaders urged the Colombian president to take action to stop such acts from occurring and to reject with force the widespread violence perpetrated against trade unionists in that Latin American country.

In a recent survey, the International Trade Union Council, your country was found to be the worst violator of trade union rights in 2006, with the deaths of more than 75 unionists weighing heavily on the Colombian conscience.

“The world is watching, Mr. President, and we are watching with it. Halt the violence against SINALTRAINAL and other trade unions. Bring to justice those who are committing the acts of violence,” the letter said.

“To do so now would go a long distance to the restoring the tarnished image of your democracy in the eyes of the world. Failing to do so can only bring more infamy to your government.”

Send your letters to: Dr. Alvaro Uribe Velez, Presidencia de la República Dr. Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Cra. 8 No. 7-26, Palacio de Nariño,  Santa fe de Bogotá, Colombia, Fax: (+57 1) 566.20.71, auribe@presidencia.gov.co.

Send copies to:

Colombian Embassy, Ottawa, Fax (613) 230-4416, E-mail: embajada@embajadacolombia.ca

Canadian Embassy, Bogata, Fax: (011571) 657-9912, Email: bgota@international.gc.ca

Sinaltrainal Internacional, areainternacional@sinaltrainal.org