Letter from CRIC to Uribe

[Note: This letter was published in December of 2003 and received some publicity in the Colombian media. Several of the indigenous communities that signed this letter were then besieged by the military and paramilitaries in what can only be interpreted as collective punishment for their insistence on autonomy.]

Popayán, December 15, 2003

Mr. Alvaro Uribe Vélez

President of Colombia

Mr. President

In 1985 our traditional authorities in Tierradentro issued the Resolution of Vitoncó, a document which showed the public, for the first time in Colombia, a social position demanding from the armed actors respect for our legitimate ancestral authorities and our territorial autonomy. Equally important has been our organization's contribution through peace initiatives in the 1980s that led to the Constitution of 1991, the first national accord which recognized the ethnic diversity of the Colombian nation, setting up clear guidelines for the conduct of the state with respect to our communities.

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The Toronto Star's Coverage of the Colombia Conflict

A Letter from Joe Emersberger to the Star

Your coverage of Colombia's civil war has been extremely one sided and inaccurate in recent months. Anyone who relied mainly on your coverage of this conflict could be forgiven for having quite a distorted view of it. The impunity with which the Colombian government, often through its paramilitary allies, has killed and tortured its people is greatly assisted by media coverage that distorts reality. I implore you to consider what I say below and to do your part to deprive the Colombian government of this impunity.

Since April 4 you have published 14 articles that referred to the conflict. Five of them dealt directly with murders committed by the leftist rebels (FARC, ELN). None mentioned murders carried out by the Colombian government. Three made brief reference to murders committed by right wing paramilitaries, but their connection to the government was left unexplored.

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Privatization by Bombing in Colombia

May 20, 2003

Iraq isn't the only place where bombing is a means to the end of privatization. While the Bush regime was killing Iraqi protesters in Fallujah and handing Iraq's wealth out to its friends in Bechtel and Halliburton, the Colombian establishment was testing out the privatization-by-bombing strategy in Cali.

The municipal worker's union in Cali, SINTRAEMCALI, has long been a combative, militant, and popular union. From the early 1990s, SINTRAEMCALI has taken a stand for accessible public services and against privatization and corruption. It has struggled, unafraid and undeterred by threats and murders against its members, using direct action tactics like occupying the municipal offices in downtown Cali.

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Colombia's Public Services

An interview with Alex Lopez of SINTRAEMCALI*

April 15, 2003

Alexander Lopez Maya is one of the union activists who exposed corruption at the top levels of Cali Municipal Utilities between 1998 and 2002. He helped build international solidarity for Cali's public services union, SINTRAEMCALI, and led peaceful occupations of municipal buildings in 1998 to prevent privatization. In 2001, when another attempt was made to privatize the city's public utilities corporation (EMCALI), SINTRAEMCALI occupied Cali's city hall and again prevented privatization. The struggle of SINTRAEMCALI to success despite persecution by the government and threats by paramilitaries is an incredible story, and Alex Lopez is one of the leaders of that movement.

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