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ICEM Condemns the Assassination of Colombian Sintracarbón Leader, Adolfo González Montes

7 April, 2008

In the strongest terms possible, the 20-million-member ICEM has condemned the vile and ruthless murder of trade union leader Adolfo González Montes of mining affiliate Sindicato Nacional de los Trabajores de la Industria del Carbon (Sintracarbón) in Colombia. Comrade Montes was tortured and killed early in the morning of 22 March at his home in Riohacha, La Guajira state, northern Colombia.

“We denounce this vile and atrocious murder before the international community and the people and government of Colombia,” stated ICEM General Secretary Manfred Warda. “We demand that the government of Colombia capture, charge, and convict the cowardly persons responsible for this crime against humanity and affront to democratic trade unionism.

“We also call on the multinationals AngloAmerican, BHP Billiton, and Xstrata, the shareholders of Carbones del Cerrejón, to heighten security for workers and trade unionists in the wake of this heinous act.” Carbones del Cerrejón is one of world’s largest coal producers. Managers of the enterprise and 4,000-member Sintracarbón are engaged in a model Social Dialogue exchange for Colombia, a programme fostered by the ICEM.

Miners of Sintracarbón mourned the killing of fellow worker Adolfo González Montes

Comrade Adolfo González Montes was a committeeman of the Barrancas Section. At 6h00 on 22 March, while he was finishing his rest prior to a work turn, the assailants entered his home. He was tortured and then murder in front of his four young children. Following the murder, other leaders of Sintracarbón received telephone threats.

He becomes the 13th trade unionist in Colombia reported to be assassinated so far this year. In March alone, when the eyes of the world had been focused on trade union killings in the South American nation over the stalled free trade agreement with the US, six unionists were murdered. Besides Montes, Hospital Workers’ Union leader Carlos Burbano was killed on 11 March; ADIDA unionist Gildario Antonio Gomez Alzate on 7 March; Rafael Boada of Union Nacional de Empleados Bancarios on 7 March; Leonidas Gomez Rozo of CUT on 5 March; and Carmen Cecilia Carvajal Ramirez of ASINORT on 4 March.