Union Solidarity With Besieged Colombian Workers

Nearly half of unionists gunned down or killed around the world are Colombian and this week the MUA met with a delegation in Sydney to hear their story first hand.

MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said the delegation were seeking solidarity and support for their stand against a violent, repressive anit union government.

The year 2010 has been a very difficult year for workers, peasants, indigenous, Afro-Colombian and for the whole Colombian population in general.

While the Colombian Government and their allies claim the situation has improved, the reality for trade unionists and human rights activists continues to be the worst of any country in the world. According to ITUC forty eight of the 101 unionists murdered worldwide in the last year were in Colombia.

The population in regional areas like Putumayo, Arauca, and Valle del Cauca face the permanent violation of their human rights on the part of the state forces and paramilitaries quartered in these zones. Food blockades, constant harassments, displacement, persecutions and killings are some of the violations the population are subjected to.

The government's rural development model, based on the large landowner property, the speculative use of land, agribusiness, mining concessions and mob power on the farms, is leading to rural population to greater impoverishment and dispossession.

On the 24th August 2010 the UN revealed a report that indicates that the number of displaced people in Colombia has increased to 7 thousands five hundred people in the 2010 alone.

FENSUAGRO is the largest peasant and farm workers' union federation in Colombia. It organises plantation workers, small landowners, landless peasants, internally displaced people and small coca growers.

For organising Colombia's workers and peasants and for voicing their demands, FENSUAGRO has been targeted by the Colombian state. Members have been imprisoned, murdered, threatened by paramilitaries, and its leaders displaced in the national territory. More than 1,500 FENSUAGRO members have been assassinated in its 32 years of existence, eight of them in the year 2008 and what has passed so far of 2009.

The purpose of the Australian visit is to publicize the human, labour rights issues and FENSUAGRO's work for a sustainable peace in Colombia.

To gain support from the Australian trade union movement with projects in the areas of human rights and capacity building.