Sindicato Memoria Viva (Living Memory Union), Colombia’s Largest Union of Bodyguards Needs Your Solidarity
The Memoria Viva (Living Memory) Union of security guards is experiencing targeting and repression from a variety of directions and needs your solidarity. A majority of their members are veterans of the armed struggle and signers of the 2016 Peace Accords ending 52 years of civil war in Colombia. On one side, they are subject to hard working conditions, as well as false allegations and interference in union affairs, on the part of their employers; on the other, they are targets of paramilitary death squads and enemies of the peace. In just over four years as a union, six of their leaders have been murdered.
Please add your name and/or organization to this Open Letter in Solidarity with Colombia’s Memoria Viva Union of Security Guards. The letters will be hand delivered to Colombian consulates and embassies, as well as to Colombian authorities and the offices of the Comunes Party.
TEXT OF THE OPEN LETTER:
Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego, President of the Republic of Colombia
Gloria Inés Ramirez Ríos, Minister of Labor
Augusto Rodríguez Ballesteros, Director of the National Protection Unit
Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, President of the National Political Council of the Comunes Party
Please receive warm greetings from those of us who have signed this international letter in support of the Memoria Viva union and its members. As militant internationalists and defenders of human and labor rights, we understand that this year's elections represent the beginning of a change in Colombia that will allow advances for peace and justice in the country and the region. It is our hope that under this new popular government, Colombia will also leave behind the violence that has made it the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists and become a guarantor of respect and protection of workers' rights.
As internationalists, we are convinced that the Memoria Viva union has an important place in the transition towards a Colombia that respects human rights and guarantees a dignified life. As trade unionists and as signatories of the Peace Accord, we see in the health of Memoria Viva a reflection of the situation in Colombia and the commitment to peace and life of those in power with the working class of the country. Unfortunately, we know that the material difficulties faced by the union have recently been compounded by the murders of some members and threats to union members, stigmatization campaigns and even interference in its internal affairs.
We trust that this government and the Comunes Party will know how to act to affirm, protect, and respect the labor rights of the Memoria Viva union, and meet the following demands:
- That the National Protection Unit (UNP), government agents, and Comunes Party authorities end the false and damaging statements, allegations, and stigmatizations against the Memoria Viva national union;
- That UNP agents, government agents, and Communes Party authorities respect the internal processes of the Memoria Viva union to elect its own representation;
- That the agents of the UNP, the government, and the authorities of the Communes Party respect the labor rights of the workers and escorts contracted with the UNP. We demand that they do not encourage members of the Memoria Viva union to disaffiliate and then join unions preferred by the bosses for whom they work;
- That the UNP provide adequate equipment and tools for Memoria Viva union members and all UNP escorts to perform their duties, including properly functioning vehicles and commission vehicles when necessary.
- That the UNP end the practice of arbitrary, sudden, and unconsulted transfers of its escorts, and that the UNP pay due compensation for overtime work;
- That the government fulfill the commitments made in the Peace Accords, especially the end of threats and assassinations against members of the Memoria Viva Union, and against all signatories of the Peace Accords;
- That the President, Gustavo Petro Urrego, and the Minister of Labor, Gloria Inés Ramírez, meet as soon as possible with the leadership of the Memoria Viva Union and all labor unions in Colombia.
Until we achieve peace and life with justice and dignity,