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Uruguayan government officials illegally surveil union president

9 February, 2023Uruguayan government officials have engaged in illegal surveillance of Marcelo Abdala, president of Uruguayan trade union federation PIT-CNT and general secretary of IndustriALL affiliate UNTMRA. PIT-CNT is considering political and legal action in defence of democracy, the Republic and freedoms.

PIT-CNT issued a statement on 1 February rejecting the illegal surveillance of union leader Marcelo Abdala by the former presidential security chief Alejandro Astesiano.

Uruguayan media have published audio recordings of Alejandro Astesiano confirming that he used surveillance cameras from the Ministry of the Interior to follow Abdala’s route on a public highway after he was involved in a traffic accident in February 2022.

The PIT-CNT executive secretariat says that this “violates individual rights and civil liberties, and calls into question Uruguay’s democratic quality”.

In a statement, it described the incident as “extremely serious”, given that state resources and equipment were used for “spurious ends” and in total conflict with the interests that should guide the actions of government officials.

The executive secretariat is considering the possibility of taking political and/or legal action at national and international level to defend democracy, the Republic and freedoms.

UNTMRA also issued an official statement, expressing solidarity with union leader Abdala:

“We condemn the anti-democratic practices conducted by President Luis Lacalle Pou's government. We emphatically reject such practices, which violate individual rights and civil liberties.”

IndustriALL’s regional secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean, Marino Vani, says:

“We stand in solidarity with our fellow metalworker and Uruguayan trade union leader, Abdala, as well as with the leadership of the unions and the Uruguayan trade union centre. This is an attack on the individual and collective freedoms of workers.

We deplore the fact that politicians and officials of the Uruguayan government use the state apparatus for illegal and anti-democratic practices. We hope this will not be repeated and that those responsible, at every level, will be held accountable.”