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Der untenstehende (englische) Bericht der lateinamerikanischen Menschenrechtsorganisation
NIZKOR ist vom Oktober 2001. Dennoch, weil beim ständigen Terror der Paramilitärs
gegen Gewerkschafter die Regierung in der Regel behauptet, sie sei neutral,
könne nur eben nichts tun, zeigt dieser Fall das Gegenteil: Im Zuge der
Privatisierung des Kohlebergbaus unternahm die Regierung Pastrana alles erdenkliche,
um die Gewerkschaft SINTRAMINERCOL aufzulösen. In der Zeche Cerrejon Norte
marschierte gar die Armee auf, angefordert vom Besitzer: Exxon.
While George W. Bush pushes the US Senate to adopt his administration's Energy policy, the Colombian National Government, multilateral banks and multinational mining companies are moving to liquidate the state mining company MINERCOL as a last resort to destroy the mining union SINTRAMINERCOL.
SINTRAMINERCOL is the labor union of the state mining company, MINERCOL, which contracts all the mining operations in the country to private companies, and to multinationals in particular. Six years ago the union began an investigation which has since shown how lawyers for multinational mining companies have helped to draw up Colombian mining laws to their benefit, but resulting in more violence, helplessness, forced displacement and torture to the communities in the areas of the mining mega projects.
SINTRAMINERCOL has also denounced recent new codes sanctioned by President Pastrana that would favor mining companies owned by his relatives, giving them enormous tax reductions, no environmental controls and favorable operating conditions. As a result, the National Government, together with mining company lawyers, has recently put into effect Article 317 of the new Mining Code, taking away all main functions from MINERCOL. Also through legislation, the government has attempted to liquidate the company and present a budgetary bill to congress that makes no financial provisions for the Union's subsistence.
Another force behind these actions is the proposed Bush-Cheney Energy plan which calls for 1,300 - 1,900 new electrical generating stations over the next 20 years in the US most of which will be run on fossil fuels, ensuring a massive increase in the demand for coal. Colombia is already the world's fourth-largest exporter of coal.
The Energy plan also promotes an increase in US foreign investment in the Colombian coal sector and the reaction to these policies by Colombian workers has been one of resistance. That resistance has been met with violent repression.
Community resistance and trade union work is and has been an impediment to access to the resources. By many accounts, Colombia is one of the most dangerous places to be a trade unionist. More than 40 union leaders have been slain so far this year. Last year, 129 were killed. As a result, it is not only mining communities that are targeted - trade unionists face a staggering death rate.
The Cerrejon Norte mine, formerly state-owned, is now operated as a joint venture between the government and U.S.-based Exxon Corp., a unit of ExxonMobil. In 2000, it produced 18.4 million tons of coal -- half of Colombia's total output. Half of this went to Exxon, which sold 17 percent of it to two southeast US electric utilities.
The Colombian army provides security for the mine and has a history of involvement in labor disputes. In the early 1990s, tanks occupied Cerrejon Norte after the government ordered the military to break a miners' strike.
Other US energy corporations, like Occidental Petroleum, also depend on the Colombian army to provide security in their oilfields.
US labor groups, are now saying human rights abuses abroad have a direct impact on US workers and union members: In Colombia and elsewhere, a low-wage workforce whose labor rights are attacked and leaders murdered gives US companies a low-cost advantage in moving production there.
After developing Cerrejon Norte in the mid-1980s, Exxon began cutting its US coal production and reduced its US coal-mining workforce to 321 people, from 1,600. Its Colombian operation now accounts for over half the company's coast production worldwide. Other companies have followed suit.
"U.S. Energy Plan Spells Danger for Colombian Labor," Inter Press Service, September 11, 2001; "A Call For Support To Avoid The Closure Of The State Mining Company In Colombia And Denouncing Certain Mining Companies For Serious Human Rights Violations," Urgent Solidarity, Nizkor International Human Rights Team, Derechos Human Rights, October 12, 2001