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Thursday, January 25, 2007






                                        By Stephen Flanagan Jackson

                                          (copyright- 2007)

     BOGOTA,COLOMBIA--- Fernando Leyva, publisher of LatinAmericanPost.com, said today he encouraged editor Stephen Flanagan Jackson to file in US Federal
Court an appeal of the  US judge¹s denial of his---and the media¹s and the public¹s--- First Amendment rights in covering the long-running civil murders case of three slain Colombian union leaders brutally executed near the Drummond coal mines in La Loma, Colombia in 2001. The civil case has been in  a US court since March, 2002 under the obscure Alien Torts Claim Act of 1789.  Coca-Cola, Del Monte, Unocal and other multinationals are being called to task by international labor under the almost-forgotten law  which allows foreigners to sue private US citizens or corporations for alleged wrongdoings (a tort) abroad.

      Jackson¹s First Amendment hearing is set for Feb. 1 in Montgomery,  Ala. at the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Presiding judges are William Pryor, Edward Carnes, and Jerome Farris.

  ³I am the only Gringo journalist to have a copy of these sealed documents,² said Jackson, referring to a Colombian¹s deposition and also to the depostion of Garry N. Drummond, CEO and head of Drummond Coal Co. Jackson¹s  lawyer, Barry Ragsdale, filed the appeal after the judge denied an earlier request by Jackson to unseal the documents which reveal the sworn-to testimony  of a Colombia eye witness to a $200,000 payoff  from Drummond¹s top man in Bogota, Augusta Jiminez, to paramilitary hitmen in order ³to kill trade union leaders² at Drummond¹s La Loma coal mines. The   massive mountain of sealed documents also reveal the extent and details of Drummond¹s alleged influence of the US State Department and the US Justice Department to have the Drummond civil murders case dropped due to the possibility of sensitive, secret  relations between the US and Colombia governments being made known.  Mr. Drummond, a University of Alabama trustee emeritus and a member of the US Business School Hall of Fame, testifies about paying a half  million dollars in ³stipends² to the Colombia police and military for protection of the Drummond mines and port.

  Jackson¹s motion to open documents was denied in Federal  Court in Birmingham where previously the judge slapped a ³SINTRAMIENERGETICA² lawyer with a $500 fine for contempt because he introduced the payoff  witness¹s document into open court May 16. Federal judge Karon O. Bowdre, incensed that the Colombian labor union lawyer, Daniel Kovalik,  had the temerity to enter the  volatile documents, ordered them sealed at the request of Drummond lawyers on May 17. The judge denied a Jackson motion to unseal the documents, thus prompting Jackson¹s date for oral argument in federal appeals court.
In denying Jackson¹s original motion to unseal the documents, the judge said, ³This case  (should) not be tried in the media, but instead be tried in the courtroomŠ.² She said the sealed documents with the bombshell revelations should not have been filed and was a ³gratuitous filingŠdesigned to inflame the media and public opinionŠ²  The judge added, in denying Jackson¹s First Amendment appeal to open the documents, ³Šsealing these documents is not designed to be a prior restraint on the publication of any materials by the press. However, the court encourages judicious action that is mindful of the firestorm that could result from widespread publication of these unexamined statements by a witness who is in prison in a foreign country and therefore not readily available for direct questioning.²

  The judge is referring to the  ³Colombia Canary,² former DAS officer Rafael Garcia  who is in Carcel Picota, a  prison south of Bogota, on charges of money laundering and computer manipulation of DAS data. Garcia has recently been singing a tune of corruption in the Colombian government, including relations with the US  Drug Enforcement Administration,  and voting fraud charges against Colombian President Uribe, a landslide winner in the May Colombia election. Based on Garcia¹s testimony, a number of former DAS officials have been indicted by the Colombian government. DAS is the Spanish acronym for Department of Administrative Security, Colombia¹s equivalent to the FBI.

     ³We are under constant threats from the paramilitary and ³sicarios² (hired assassins) while Drummond has the Colombian army---backed by US funds---guarding its La Loma facilities and we (union members) are left to fend for ourselves,² charges Omar Estupinan, a SINTRAMIENERGETICA union local president at La Loma. Estupinan  fled his hometown for temporary sanctuary in Bogota, the capital city.   

     Three previous Colombia  union leaders---Gustavo Soler, Valmore Locarno, and Victor Hugo Orcasita--- were brutally assassinated near the Drummond mines in 2001. No charges have been filed in Colombia, but Drummond faces a controversial civil wrongful deaths case meandering turtle-slow in US Federal Court in Birmingham, Ala. Jury selection---if the judge does not issue a dismissal at a February hearing---is expected in May, 2007 in the case filed by the Colombia union¹s lawyers of the United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh and  the International Relief Fund in Washington, DC.

       Other documents sealed by the US judge---a Bush appointee---reveal efforts by Drummond to influence the US State and Justice Departments to dismiss the case on grounds that US national security would be compromised by information related to the trial.  Sources indicate that the US State Department has, indeed, sent a letter to the judge regarding the Drummond civil murders case.

     Drummond Co. has consistently stated that the allegations of its complicity in the murders are false. ³The charges are liesŠdamnable lies,² commented William Jeffress, Jr., a Drummond attorney with Baker Botts of Washington, DC, previous to the judge¹s first gag order in 2004.

  In a recent speech on an unrelated matter  in Colombia, President  Alvaro Uribe maintains passport records show that Drummond¹s Jiminez was out of Colombia at the time Garcia claims to have been in the  payoff meeting with Jiminez and the paramilitary. Uribe never produced conclusive evidence to support this claim about Jiminez

Drummond¹s lawyers have rolled out the ³political question² doctrine and the ³international comity¹ doctrine in a last ditch effort to quash the homicide charges and stop the civil case, maintaining a trial presents the possibility of compromising US national security issues.  The US has officially declared the left-wing guerrilla and the right-wing paramilitary as ³terrorists²---both  Colombia groups active around the Drummond mines.

   ³Judge Bowdre¹s order has a chilling effect by cutting me off from my sources, potential sources, and information about this case,² says Jackson, also a journalism professor at Stillman College.  ³The judge¹s order is a violation of my First Amendment rights as a journalist, of the media¹s First Amendment rights, and the general public¹s First Amendment rights---which include the right-to-know.

     ³The judge is throwing a shroud over this case,² says Jackson.  ³Mr. Ragsdale, my lawyer, and I are not threatening Drummond¹s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.

      ³ We are looking out for the First Amendment right to monitor the administration of justice without any undue restrictions on the monitoring and without regards to the manner and style in which the information in communicated.

     ³To paraphrase Mark Twain, you can always find 12 ignoramuses in Alabama who do not read the newspapers or watch the news on TV,² remarks Jackson. ³This plethora of sealed documents could possibly reveal violations of the Leahy Amendment which regulates the use of US funds in Plan Colombia,² adds Jackson.  ³This is also a case of massive human rights violations. Three people were murdered some six years ago!²

     Drummond ships coal from its lucrative Colombia mine all over the world, including to one of its biggest customers---Israel.  Domestically, the Southern Company---parent of Alabama Power---  receives  Colombia coal shipments through the Port of  Mobile to burn in its electric-generating plants all over the Southeast.

 (Note:  Permission  to use/ Your support is appreciated/Contact Jackson at 205 366-8858 or sfjackson10@hotmail.com. For further reference go to PACERS for US District Court case No. CV-03-BE-0575-W)

    (Contact Jackson at sfjackson10@hotmail.com or 205  366-8858)

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org



(Translated by Peter Lenny, a CSN  volunteer translator)

Colombian government contracts with Drummond Corporation, Glencore and the transnational Cerrejón consortium must be renegotiated because they contain ³lion¹s share² clauses highly damaging to Colombian national interests. This demand was voiced by Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo at the public hearing ³Coal, Mining and Energy² (Carbón, Minería y Energía), called by the Fifth Senate Commission and held today at the National Capitol. Robledo also called for no new contracts to be signed with these foreign mining concerns until Colombian agencies can quantify the enormous damage done to Colombia over recent decades at the Cerrejón Zona Norte complex and the El Paso and La Jagua de Ibirico mines.

Robledo, spokesman for the Polo Democrático Alternativo caucus in the Senate denounced changes made to Colombian law that leave all mining, hydrocarbons and energy in the hands of foreign capital. This is of the utmost importance, given that this sector earns half of Colombia¹s export revenues ­ or US$ 9,420 million in 2005.

What is left to Colombia of its own non-renewable wealth? That question is crucial, says Robledo, because what you see in La Guajira and at El Cesar is abject poverty. According to a Universidad Nacional study, Colombia¹s 50.64% state take from oil is the lowest anywhere in the world. He also called attention to the reduction on coal royalties, from 15% to 5 and 10%, drastically cheapening this valuable resource, while gold royalties are a meager 4%. Surface and subsoil riches are being given away to foreign consortiums, because the tax actually charged to major mining concerns, once the exemptions are discounted, is less than 5%, according to the higher education and development foundation, Fedesarrollo. Some cases are just outrageous, reports Senator Robledo, including the national tax and customs authority¹s reimbursing 259,000 million pesos in value added tax to Drummond.

He promised that the Fifth Commission will scrutinize thoroughly the case of Cerrejón Zona Norte, which was sold at a loss to three multinational corporations, today partners in the business. Robledo also highlighted the abysmal health and safety conditions in large-scale coal mining, the frequent labor accidents and the disastrous system of labor outsourcing to avoid paying benefits and keep wages low.

He reported that, after 38 years serving Exxon, Hernán Martínez¹ first act as Minister of Mines was to propose the privatization of the state oil enterprise, Ecopetrol. ³Dr. Hernán Martínez is not Colombia¹s Minister of Mines, but Foreign Capital¹s Minister of Mines².

Robledo concluded by stating that he will continue in the breach to defend the national interest. ³This is a democratic political and economic battle and I call on Colombians of all persuasions to join me so that together we can save Colombia. The problem is not that we are doing business with foreign capital, but that we are doing business against the national interest², he ended.

If you would like to hear Senator Robledo¹s speech, please use this link:
Que se renegocien los contratos con las trasnacionales de la gran minería <http://moir.org.co/index-anterior.php?idcategoria=17120&amp;ts=7d91ad627a00faa683096adf6355d55a&amp;PHPSESSID=d2060665a3e28ad93eb9bb13a6d5d394>

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Paramilitary presence grows in Coyaima , Tolima state



CORPORACIÓN REINICIAR denounces before the public opinion and the authorities the events occurred during the last weeks in the Municipality of Coyaima, in the southern part of the Department of Tolima.


Since the last week of December, 2006, an armed group of around 10 members dressed in civil clothes, started visiting different communities of the Municipality of Coyaima, in the southern part of Tolima. During those days and until the beginning of this months, the group dedicated to interrogate the population (most of them indigenous and peasant people) about the gold mines, the indigenous reservations, and the political activities in the municipality.

Simultaneously, graffiti signs appeared in the communities of Santa Marta del Palmar and Santa Marta Inspección (20 km away from the municipality seat). The signs were sprayed on the walls of the municipal council offices, the elementary school, and several houses. Messages like: ³out telltale guerrilla², ³death to the communist and the guerrilla supporters². Phrases of this kind were sprayed on farms in the Doyaré Porvenir community (5 Km away from the municipality seat). The graffiti signs have been signed by N.O.L.C., abbreviation that also appears on the light poles and houses of the communities mentioned above. Up to this moment the meaning of the abbreviation is unknown, but it is presumed that it represents the new name or motto of the paramilitary group active in the zone.

During the first week of January about fifteen more men, strongly armed and dressed in camouflaged uniforms, arrived at the municipality. It is presumed that these men gather and overnight at San Pedro ranch, located in the Papagalá community, in the neighboring Municipality of Saldaña. In total, around 25 people from the same group (half dressed in civil clothes and the other half dressed in military uniforms), have moved from that place to the communities in Coyaima, gathering information about the population, demanding money and animals from the reservations, and intimidating the population.  Members of this group have been heard saying they had came to the Municipality of Coyaima to ³clean it² from thieves and guerrilla.

There is specific information indicating that this group demanded one calf and 500 thousand Pesos (around 225 US Dollars) from the indigenous reservation El Palmar ­ Bocas de Babí, and from the reservation of Santa Marta Inspección. It seems other reservations of the municipality have also been extorted, as well as local merchants, especially miners.

The alleged paramilitary members of the group convened a meeting with the community of Santa Marta del Palmar to inform the inhabitants of the purpose of their presence in the zone and to announce some ³instructions². In the beginning, the meeting was scheduled for January 7, at the community¹s high school, but later it was rescheduled and cancelled twice. Up to this date there has been no meeting since the conveners have never attended.

On January 10 the GAULA unit (special anti-kidnapping group) of the Police arrested 5 of the alleged paramilitary members and killed three more in a confrontation in Santa Marta Inspección, thanks to a report made by an architect who was assaulted and extorted by the paramilitary group. According to the information available to us, the GAULA unit arrived at the place of the arrest after receiving a report about a group of robbers. However, neither the GAULA unit nor the Army had addressed the previous reports about the presence of the same group when they were informed about a paramilitary incursion. Troops of the Battalion Caicedo of the National Army, who often patrol the zone, have not stopped the members of this group from moving freely throughout the municipality, carrying weapons and military uniforms.

The process and the detainees during this GAULA¹s operation were transferred to Ibagué the day after the arrest was made. The alleged paramilitary members told the population they would soon come back and would retaliate against the community for reporting them. During the last five days the other members of the group have not been seen around the communities mentioned above, but it is known they are still concentrated in Papagalá, Municipality of Saldaña.


During 2001 and 2002, the Municipality of Coyaima suffered the terrible consequences of a paramilitary incursion to the zone. In this occasion, the paramilitary perpetrated a chain of violations against supporters and leaders of the Unión Patriótica (Patriotic Union) and the Partido Comunista Colombiano (Colombian Communist Party). An example of this is the assassination and forced disappearance of their members, the forced displacement of their families, and the continuous threats against their lives.

Before such incursion, the Patriotic Union had won the majority of seats in the Municipal Council of Coyaima, obtaining 6 of the 13 seats. Since 2001 that number started to decline as a direct consequence of paramilitary actions. Currently the party only holds one seat.

During the previous paramilitary incursion (2001 ­ 2002) links between the paramilitary group and the Armed Forces, and their collaboration with the paramilitary, were evident. The community of Coyaima reported in several occasions that a helicopter of the Army¹s IV Brigade delivered provisions to the paramilitary group present in the municipality.

Since 2003, the paramilitary group left most of the communities of Coyaima, but they remain active in neighboring municipalities, especially in Saldaña and San Luis. Night check points are permanent in the area. The last month of November the paramilitary group killed three people, among them a pregnant woman, during a night check point just 8 Km away from Coyaima¹s Municipality Seat.

The strengthening of the paramilitary presence in the municipality appears just before the local elections and after support for the Colombian leftist party was widely shown in Coyaima. In fact, during the last presidential election, the candidate of the Polo Democrático Alternativo (Alternative Democratic Pole) obtained the majority of votes in Coyaima, reaching 1,700 votes in this small municipality.

The facts and background described above seriously worry Coyaima¹s inhabitants, particularly leftist supporters and activists. The new incursion is similar in fashion to the paramilitary incursion in 2001. There are serious signs showing that this time the paramilitary forces also pretend to destroy the electorate¹s support obtained by the non-traditional political parties. Although the paramilitary forces have never completely left the zone, they have recently strengthened their presence in the southern part of Tolima, entering municipalities in which there is an important number of indigenous reserves. This is how the municipalities of Ortega and Natagaima, close to Coyaima and with indigenous population, are facing a situation similar to the one described above.


We request from the National Government, particularly from the President of the Republic as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, to guarantee the right to life, privacy, and security of person, among other rights that have been violated and threatened in Coyaima and neighboring communities. Similarly, we request from the National Government to comply with their international responsibilities related to respecting and guaranteeing human rights. In consequence, we request the Government to make all necessary efforts to protect the community¹s life and integrity, especially that of the survivors of the Patriotic Union and the Colombian Communist Party. They are politically active in the region and in imminent risk.

From the Nation¹s Public Prosecutor¹s Office, to formally initiate a criminal investigation on the abuses described above, with the objective of clarifying the events and identifying the perpetrators.

From the Nation¹s Attorney General¹s Office, to investigate the behavior of the Public Forces, their actions or neglect, in the events described above. We also request from this office to instruct all State personnel and the Public Forces to respect all constitutional rights of the civil population of this zone.

We also request from national and international organizations, advocating for the defense of human rights, to contact the Colombian authorities to demand protection and guarantees for the rights of the population of Coyaima, a population in imminent danger.


Bogotá, January 16, 2007

Please address your communications to the following offices:

Presidencia de la República:

Doctor Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Presidente de la República
Cra 8 # 7-26, Palacio de Nariño, Santa Fe de Bogotá
Fax: (571) 5662071
Email: auribe@presidencia.gov.co

Vicepresidencia de la República:

Doctor Francisco Santos Calderón, Vicepresidente de la República
Carrera 8A No 5-57, Santafé de Bogotá
Tel.: (571) 334 4507
Email: fsantos@presidencia.gov.co ; buzon1@presidencia.gov.co

Programa presidencial de Derechos Humanos y de Derecho Internacional Humanitario:

Doctor Carlos Franco
Calle 7 N° 5 ­ 54 Bogotá D.C
Fax: (571) 337 46 67
Email: cefranco@presidencia.gov.co

Ministerio de Defensa Nacional:

Doctor Juan Manuel Santos, Ministro de la Defensa
Avenida El Dorado con Cra 52 CAN, Bogotá
Fax: (571) 222 1874
Email : siden@mindefensa.gov.co; infprotocol@mindefensa.gov.co; mdn@cable.net.co

Fiscalía General de la Nación:

Doctor Mario Hernán Iguarán Arana, Fiscal General de la Nación
Diagonal 22-B # 52-01, Bogotá.
Fax: (571) 570 2000; (571) 414 9000 Ext: 1113
Email: contacto@fiscalia.gov.co; denuncie@fiscalia.gov.co

Procuraduría General de la Nación:

Doctor Edgardo José Maya Villazón, Procurador General de la Nación
Cra 5 # 15-80, Bogotá
Fax: (571) 342 9723; (571) 284 7949
Email: cap@procuraduria.gov.co; quejas@procuraduria.gov.co; webmaster@procuraduria.gov.co; cap@procuraduria.gov.co; reygon@procuraduria.gov.co;

Defensoría del Pueblo:

Doctor Volmar Antonio Pérez Ortiz, Defensor del Pueblo
Calle 55 # 10-32, Bogotá
Fax: (571) 640 0491
Email: secretaria_privada@hotmail.com ; agenda@agenda.gov.co


Oficina en Colombia del Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos:

Doctor Juan Pablo Corlazzoli
Calle 114 Nº 9-45, Torre B, of. 1101
Tel.: (571) 6583300
Email: oacnudh@hchr.org.co

Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja ­ Delegación para Colombia:

Calle 76 No. 10-02
Tel.: (571 ) 313 86 30, Fax: (571 ) 312 82 82
Email: bogota.bog@icrc.org

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Social Security is privatized in Colombia

With the Liquidation of the ISS the Government Delivers the Health of Colombians to the Merchants of Death

(A translation by Thomas Kolar, a CSN Translator)

    President Alvaro Uribe Velez has definitively privatized the social security health care system and changed what was a right into a business transaction; a process that he began as a senator in 1993 when he promoted Law 100.

    The bargain sale of the ISS effectively ends the health security that remained in the country in order to advance the delivery to private capital of the hospital resources and infrastructure and endangering the more than three million members and beneficiaries of the EPS of the ISS, many of whom are of advanced age and seriously ill.

    This sytem of health care represents excessive profits because of the denial of services and the obstacles to the access of services. The advance of unnecessary death is a most perverse and tragic manifestation for workers and the users of a system that does not regard them as patients but as clients and a lucrative business opportunity.

    The CUT(Central Unitaria de Trabajadores/ United Centralized Workers Union) urges workers affiliated with social security not to transfer to a new private EPS ( Private Help Services) but to remain in the EPS of the ISS as a form of defense of the rightful policy and the public social patrimony, while, at the same time, it calls for actions and mobilizations that will bring about the rejection of this profoundly neoliberal privatization.

    Our proposal is to continue the struggle to repeal Law 100 of 1993 and establish a new model of social security that is based on health as a fundamental right and life as the highest value of society.

    The CUT will continue to defend the public social security system against the merchants of death to whom the government is giving a free path to monopoly of the business that health has become.

    Our project of continuing struggle for a state of social and democratic justice is more determined than ever, therefore CUT calls on workers to join in the mobilization and political action to reject this neoliberal proposal for our community.

Carlos Julio Diaz Lotero

New Strike Against Social Security

    The national government, in pursuit of its policy to dismantle the system of social security, decided to sell off the EPS of the ISS (Institute of Social Security) and to replace the health care of its members with a new mixed public and private entity that will charge 50% more in many cases.

    The government argued this liquidation was justified by the Superintendant of Health's withdrawal of the agency's operating license due to insolvency and danger of bankruptcy, when the country knows that many private EPSs have greater financial difficulties than the EPS ISS  without the Superintendant acting against them, revealing prejudice against the EPS of social security.

    It is precisely to signal that this measure has generated economic panic, worry among the deserving, uncertainty among the affiliates, and unease among workers that we emphatically reject this government arbitrariness and demand dialogue and respect for established rights.

    We recall that the CUT (Central Unitaria de Trabajadores) and its affiliate SINTRAISS has developed alternative solutions on the subject of ISS and the social security system in general, dealing with payment of the national debt, financing of high cost patients, the just treatment of elderly patients, the generation of resources through recuperation, the control of evasion, the tripartite administration and the greater participation of the users in the diirection and administration of the ISS.

    There results a contradiction when the Colombian government argues in the Congress of the United States its respect for labor rights and social security seeking approval of the free trade agreement (TLC) while in Colombia it dismantles the smallest nets of workers' protection and social security.

    Consequently, we call for an international labor union movement to unify in solidarity rejecting the destruction of the social security system and the privatization of services that will place at risk the lives of workers and pensioners who cannot afford  the cost of private health care.

    Additionally, we call on the permanent office of the OIT in Colombia and all political and social forces to denounce this decision of the government against the ISS and to demand the strengthening of the Institute inside a grand social pact for public social security.

Bogota, 16 de enero de 2007

Carlos Arturo Rodriguez Diaz

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org



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