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Stop the Violence Against Labor/Human Rights Leaders in Latin America!

Newsletter November 12, 2012

Contents

  1. Shut Down Perpetrators of Violence! Shut Down the SOA! Protest at Ft. Benning, Georgia, November 16-18:
  2. Animated Video: "The Union," 1-1/2 minutes; re: Colombia
  3. Update on SINALTRAINAL's William Mendoza and Juan Carlos Galvis

1. Shut Down Perpetrators of Violence! Shut Down the SOA! Protest at Ft. Benning, Georgia, November 16-18:

What is SOA Watch?

SOA Watch, which is a movement to close the School of the Americas (SOA), was founded by Father Roy Bourgeois, its vocal, dynamic leader.

Father Roy has been a priest for 38 years. He founded SOA Watch in 1990 after witnessing the killings of thousands in Central America in the 1980's. Father Roy's conscious awakening and calling to priesthood happened immediately after his experience serving in Vietnam. He has spent four years in prison for nonviolent protests against the SOA.

The SOA, renamed the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation," but better known as the School of the Assassins, is a U.S. military training school for Latin American soldiers located in Fort Benning, Georgia. The school is synonymous with torture and military repression around the world. Its graduates have long been associated with military coups, human rights abuses and the suppression of popular movements. Hundreds of thousands, according to SOA Watch, have been tortured, raped, murdered and "disappeared" by those trained at the SOA.

According to a 2001 lawsuit, SINALTRAINAL, et al v. The Coca-Cola Co., et al:

"The U.S. government has trained over 10,000 of Colombia's military troops at the School of the Americas ... SOA training manuals, which the Pentagon was forced to turn over in 1996, show that the U.S. encouraged these troops to engage in torture and murder of those who, inter alia, do 'union organizing and recruiting'; pass out 'propaganda in favor of the interests of the workers'; and 'sympathize with demonstrators or strikes.'

"As a consequence of the official vilification of trade unionists by the Colombian and U.s. governments as well as corporations operating in Colombia, Colombia has led the world in the number of murders of trade unionists."

Join the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke at the Protest

Join us at our table in the Convention Hall and help us distribute thousands of the above flyer to all participants in the protest.

Download the flyer in .PDF

And please come to our workshop:

Saturday, November 17th, 8:30-10:30pm, CC Center Hall. "The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke: Fighting Coca-Cola's human rights abuses and racial discrimination." Sponsored by the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke.

The workshop will summarize the crimes of Coca-Cola in Latin America and around the globe, and explain what the campaign has accomplished. Major successes include kicking Coca-Cola off dozens of college campuses and out of hundreds of union halls. Those interested in making their school, union, community or place of business Coca-Cola-free should join us for an informative, Coke-free workshop.

Go to the site of the SOA Watch at http://soaw.org

2. Animated Video: "The Union" By G.P. Rivolta, Scartoonees

Check out "The Union," the new 1-1/2 minute animated video from Scartoonees.com depicting the violence against unionists by Coca-Cola bottlers in Colombia.

Watch the Video

3. Update on SINALTRAINAL's William Mendoza and Juan Carlos Galvis

Following is a summary of reports we received about Juan Carlos Galvis and William Mendoza in Colombia:

Journalist and union icon Fred Hirsch describes in an August 15 article, "Colombian Unionists Targeted: Can Three Assassins Get a Government to Do Their Dirty Deeds?" how Juan Carlos Galvis and William Mendoza are in a tense saga where their futures and their lives are in peril. Galvis and Mendoza are two leaders in the union, SINALTRAINAL, which represents Coca-Cola workers in Colombia. Both men are being falsely accused by three former paramilitaries of planting a bomb in a Coca-Cola plant in 1998. Galvis's and Mendoza's stories are highlighted in the book, "The Coke Machine," by Michael Blanding, published in 2010.

Fred Hirsch describes how Mendoza and Galvis are fighting not only to save their own lives, but also their union:

"William Mendoza and Juan Carlos Galvis are working to save their own lives, but the fight to save their union and affirm the right of workers to organize is the passion that has driven them to this point. They clearly understand their contradictory predicament: that the harder they fight for workers' rights, the more they endanger their very lives - yet they fight."

It was later reported to us:

William Mendoza's and Juan Carlos Galvis's lawyers interviewed Julian Bolivar, the paramilitary commander who was going to testify against them. He now said that he knows nothing about the charges leveled against William and Juan and he never had anything to do with the effort to imprison them. Bolivar is one key witness of the prosecution who is out.

The Colombian D.A. in charge of the case spoke with the lawyers and said that he has been swamped with letters and calls from the north and said that he was feeling the heat. He asked if they could have this turned down a bit because he is just doing his job and that he promises to keep the process transparent but William said this is the only way to keep him honest and transparent.

William said it would be great if you could send letters if you haven't already.

Send them to:

Unidad Nacional de Fiscalía Contra el Terrorismo, Despacho Veintiocho, Estructura de Apoyo – Parapolítica. A la diagonal 22 B No 52-01, Edificio F, Piso 2, teléfono 091- 5702000 extensión 1351- 1310- fax 1383- 1410, Bogotá D.C

Doctor Eduardo Montealegre, Fiscal General de la Nación, Caso 290 Juan Carlos Galvis y William Mendoza denuncie@fiscalia.gov.co

The death threats are also growing William and Juan. Comments have been made to the lawyers that if they should win this case on behalf of William and Juan, they will have to kill the two union leaders.

About William's trip to the United States, he is thankful for your support in helping him.

Let us not forget: