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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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