Francisco Ramírez Cuellar, the president of mining union Sintraminercol left his home with his girls to take lunch at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday 10th October. On arriving at the corner of 49th Street and 5th Avenue in the Palermo district of Bogotá, he spotted a red and black high cylinder motorbike ridden by two people and coming towards him. The passenger was looking at him fixedly and had a pistol in his right hand resting on his leg. Francisco immediately got behind electricity and telephone cabinets denying the killers a target to shoot at. At that moment the traffic lights that were red changed to green and on the insistence of the vehicles behind then, the motorcyclists took off taking the road to the south.
Francisco Ramírez noted that the motorcycle did not have number plates and that the two riders were not wearing the legally required reflective jackets or helmets. That day as in previous days watchers had been seen around Francisco Ramírez's home, and it is presumed that these two men had been waiting for him to come out and then followed him.
For the last six months persons have seen, apparently members of state security organisations, snooping on Francisco's home, the union offices and the places that he frequents such as churches, NGOs and universities where he has presented the results of his invetsigations into mining and multinationals in Colombia.
The work of harassment and intelligence has extended to others such as Ludivia Giraldo, in charge of Sintraminercol's human rights department and the legal representative of the NGO "Ecate" - Association for Integral Social Development Desarrollo Social Integral - that has its office in the Sintraminercol headquarters. The most worrying incident occurred on Wednesday 29 September 2004 when four young men dressed in civilian clothes travelling in a yellow public service taxi followed her movements from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. through the districts of San Antonio Sur, Restrepo and Alquería in Bogotá. The situation obliged her to go to the human rights section of the National Police to ask for help.
The workers at state mining corporation Minercol, trade unionists and defenders of human rights have been attacked when they carried out peaceful protests opposite the plants of Holcim corporation. They have been filmed, photographed and attacked with streams of high pressure water, dogs and security personnel who also verbally assaulted the women protesters. The destination and use of photographs taken by the Consular Police at between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m on 8th June 2004 in the entrance to the Swiss Embassy is not known. Sintraminercol and the other signing organisations state our concern that these films and photographs might fall into the hands of military-paramilitary groups who are directly responsible for the repression and extermination of trade unionists and social leaders.
On 2nd May 2004 two explosive devices were placed and detonated at Sintraminercol's headquarters. On 1st May officers of SIPOL (National Police Intelligence Service) were in two vehicles (a white Renault and a yellow taxi) in front of the building where the union's offices are located. There is no known result of the investigation, and they have not even called Francisco Ramírez to ratify the statement of what happened on the day following the attempt, all that the union has received is a communication from the Attorney in which the closure of the ivestigation was announced.
It is public knowledge that through repeated denouncements by NGOs and by the population of the Ciudad Bolívar, that the paramilitary groups operate with the National Police, and it is very suspicious that members of SIPOL had been present just before the explosions took place making a security study, which also included the address and the particulars of the place where yesterday's assassination attempt occurred.
This new attempt, from which Francisco Ramírez fortunately emerged unhurt, occurs in the midst of the union's fight against the liquidation of the state mining corporation Minercol. This has been ordered by the government of Alvaro Uribe Velez to implement the demands of the multilateral banks and of Swiss, Canadian, UK and US multinational corporations whose lawyers have elaborated and advised on rewriting the Mining Code legislation to include articles liquidating Minercol and attacking human rights, the environment and the existence of peasant, mining, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.
The Colombian State to adopt the measures necessary to guarantee the life and security of Francisco Ramírez Cuellar, president of Sintraminercol.
The Colombian Government and representatives of the multinational companies that exploit the mineral resources of Colombia to meet together with Sintraminercol in seeking ways to stop the repression and alternatives to the liquidation of Minercol.
The legal representantive of Swiss company HOLCIM in Colombia and the diplomatic representantives to state the destination of the photographs and films taken of Francisco Ramírez Cuellar, and of the human rights defenders, Minercol workers and trade unionists who participated in the meetings and protests opposite the company's headquarters and the Swiss Embassy in Bogotá.
SIGNING ORGANISATIONS: SINTRAMINERCOL, SINTRAMIN, FENALTRASE, FENASINTRAP, FUNTRAENERGÉTICA, CUT DIRECTIVA BOGOTA Y CUNDINAMARCA, SINTRAELECOL COSTA ATLÁNTICA, UNEB, USO, ASOCIACIÓN ECATE, NOMADESC, ACACEVA, SINTRAENTEMDICCOL, CAMPAÑA PROHIBIDO OLVIDAR