Murder of trade unionists in Colombia (-- from Portside)

James Daly james.irldaly at
Fri Jul 25 22:59:09 MDT 2003

Drummond Coal Company is a privately held company in Alabama which has
about $1 Billion invested in mining and exporting cheap coal from
Colombia.  They hve their own railroad and own army there. In the
meantime, they have closed most mining operations in Alabama, laying
off long-time miners. Please Write to the Drummond Coal Company

As one can see from the information below, union leaders are being
killed there, and at best, the company is not protecting them.  There
is a lawsuit in US court, accusing Drummond of complicity in the

Please write to Drummond to see to it that their workers are
protected.  A sample letter is below. Workers all over the world will
be grateful.

Rev. Jack Zylman


More info/stories on Drummond in Colombia--Richard Rouco is the local
attorney on the suit.

International Labor Rights Fund:  information on Drummond suit as well
as other cases

Drummond digs up more than coal in Colombia Tom Bassing - Bham
Business Journal


Colombia Peace Project June 2003 Please Write to the Drummond Coal

Alabama-based Drummond Coal Company closed down much of its U.S.
production and moved to Colombia, a country notorious for repression
against unions.  In March
2001, during a dispute between the company and the union at the
Drummond coal mine in Colombia, the president and vice president of
the union were riding home on the company bus.  Paramilitary gunmen
stopped the bus, forced the two union leaders off, and killed them in
front of their co-workers.  Seven months later, in October, gunmen
pulled the new union president off the bus and murdered him.  Before
those murders occurred, the union leaders had asked the company to
allow them to stay on company property between shifts, because of the
danger.  The company refused, even though the Colombian government's
intelligence service, DAS, made the same recommendation.

In March 2002, a lawsuit was filed against Drummond in a U.S. court on
behalf of the estates of the three murdered union leaders and their

Union members at Drummond's mining operations in Colombia continue to
receive serious threats of violence from high levels of management at
Drummond, and some have recently been forced to go into exile. As a
result, we have been asked to write letters to the Drummond Company
urging action to stop the repression. Specifically, we are urging
Drummond to meet the workers' request to stay at the mine overnight
instead of having to take the dangerous bus trip each day.   A sample
letter is below.  It contains further information.  Please send a
letter to Drummond.

Garry N. Drummond, CEO Drummond Company, Inc. 530 Beacon Parkway,
Suite 900 Birmingham, Alabama 35209 Re: Safety of Colombian Workers

Dear Mr. Drummond:

I am writing to you about the grave situation at your mining, port and
railway operations in Colombia, South America.  As you well know,
three (3) of your union employees -- Valmore Locarno, Victor Orcasita
and Gustavo Soler--were brutally murdered by paramilitary forces who
dragged them off of buses carrying them home from your mines.   Prior
to their murders, these individuals and their union had one simple
request of you, a request echoed by the government authorities of the
DAS -- that is, that you allow employees the option of staying
overnight at the mines between shifts so that they do not have to
travel the dangerous highways at night patrolled by armed actors.

Incredibly, even after the deaths of Locarno, Orcasita and Soler, you
continue to refuse this simple and reasonable request.  And, as a
result of your unwillingness to deal with this matter, workers under
your employ continue to be threatened by armed groups as well as by
your own management in Colombia -- including by Augusto Jiminez,
President of Drummond Ltd., himself -- some of these workers actually
being forced to go into hiding and exile.  Meanwhile, demonstrating
your awareness of the dangers to your employees as well as your
greater concern for your American employees, you provide a private
runway and compound for your American supervisors, a compound which is
under 24-hour protection of the Colombian military.

I am aware of the lawsuits filed against Drummond which allege that
your own management conspired with paramilitaries to murder Locarno,
Orcasita and Soler and continue to conspire with paramilitaries to
threaten and intimidate trade unionists.   These allegations are
disturbing in the least and warrant your immediate attention,
investigation and action to ensure that your management ceases and
desists from all such activity.

Meanwhile, I implore you to honor the continuing request of your
employees for improved safety and for the right to stay at your
facilities overnight to protect their lives.

Nothing less than these affirmative actions are required of you.
Moreover, your continued, callous failure to take these steps can be
seen as nothing less than evidence of the malevolence toward your
Colombian workers alleged in the lawsuits now pending against your
company and you personally. Please keep me up to date with the
progress of your efforts to secure the lives of your workers in

==== June, 2003.  Colombia Peace Project.  PO Box 65, South Gate, CA
90280. <copp at (323) 563-7940. The Colombia Peace Project is a
non-partisan association committed to education and advocacy in
support of non-violent efforts for peace, human rights, and social
justice in Colombia.

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