Congressman Cepeda Quoted in The Independent

News from Colombia | on: Wednesday, 28 September 2011

If you think industrial relations are bad here...

Union leaders here complain the UK has "some of the worst trade union legislation in the whole of Europe", but there are worse places to be union organisers. The worst in the western hemisphere is Colombia, which is torn apart by a bloody civil war almost as old as the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

A witness from that place will be speaking at one of the fringe meetings in Liverpool today. Ivan Cepeda is a Congressman from Democratic Pole, an umbrella for various left-wing groups. His father, Manuel, was also a Senator, from the Patriotic Union, a party born out of a temporary ceasefire between the government and the left-wing FARC guerrillas. That ceasefire collapsed. The guerrillas slipped back into the jungle, and the Patriotic Union's unarmed senators, congressmen and councillors were left to the mercy of the death squads. About 5,000 were killed.

Death came to Manuel Cepeda on 9 August 1994, but in an almost unheard of development, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights established the Colombian government's complicity in his murder and on 9 August this year, the Interior Minister apologised in parliament.

Ivan Cepeda said that getting a semblance of justice for his father was "only a small step in a gigantic process" in a country where the first right that unions and left-wing politicians have to fight for is the right not to be murdered.

On the Independent website here.

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