Colombia: Attempted Assassination of Union Leader

Colombia: Attempted Assassination of Union Leader

A leader of Colombia’s national petroleum union barely escaped with his life following an early-morning assassination attempt Monday.

The attack on Jonathan Urbano Higuera, president of the USO local for Puerto Gaitán, in Meta Department, occurred as he traveled in a vehicle assigned by the National Protection Unit, a government entity that assigns protection to endangered social leaders.

The USO reports that two armed men on motorcycles approached the vehicle and fired. Bullets shattered the rear window, and it was the quick thinking of the driver who saved lives and prevented injuries.

Urbano Higuera and four other USO leaders in Puerto Gaitán all have received harassing phone calls and death threats this year—as have fellow leaders from across Colombia, including in Huila, Magdalena Medio, Putumayo, Tolima and the capital, Bogotá.

In a statement, the union is calling on authorities to full investigate this incident and all threats against union leaders, as well as to guarantee that their ability to exercise union rights be protected. The USO is a Solidarity Center partner. In early February, the Colombian Workers Federation denounced acts of intimidation and overt threats—including a flier distributed by the Black Eagles, a far-right paramilitary group—to union leaders, members of the National Strike Committee and other social leaders.

Meanwhile, Colombian teachers are in the streets today in a “Strike for Our Lives,” to denounce the murders of and threats to social justice, rights activists and community leaders.

Within the first 52 days of this year, 51 Colombian social leaders—including union leaders and worker rights advocates—have been murdered.

NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY (NED), NDI, IRI, CIPE AND SOLIDARITY CENTER WELCOME INCREASED FUNDING FROM CONGRESS

NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY (NED), NDI, IRI, CIPE AND SOLIDARITY CENTER WELCOME INCREASED FUNDING FROM CONGRESS

Washington, DC — The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its four core grantees, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the Solidarity Center, and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) are deeply gratified that the U.S. Congress has shown strong bipartisan support for our work with a substantial increase in NED’s annual appropriation.

On Tuesday, December 17, the House of Representatives approved a spending package that increases annual funding for the National Endowment for Democracy from $180 million to $300 million.  The Senate approved the measure on December 19 and it was signed into law by President Trump on Friday, December 20.

“We thank the Congress and welcome this robust endorsement of the NED’s mission of advancing democracy around the world,” said NED President Carl Gershman. “This work is more critical than ever before as we confront dangerous challenges to democracy, including the rise of authoritarian states like China and Russia that are undermining democratic norms and values around the world; as well as opportunities for progress in transitional countries like Ethiopia  and Sudan.”

The NED is a bipartisan, non-governmental grant-making organization with the single mission of advancing democracy around the world. Governed by an independent board of directors, NED provides support to over 1,500 non-governmental organizations annually in more than 90 countries. These groups are working to protect and advance democratic values, institutions, and processes, including credible and fair elections, independent trade unions, a robust private sector, independent media, and groups that defend human rights and the rule of law.  NED’s four core institutes share the expertise of America’s civil society with grassroots partners around the world who are working to build stable democratic societies.

“Congressional support for democracy assistance is a reflection of U.S. values and national interest – a fourth “d” alongside diplomacy, defense, and development,” said NDI President Derek Mitchell. “We are committed to ensuring sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars in support of democracy abroad, and to promote both a more peaceful, stable, and just world, and more prosperous and secure America.”

IRI President Daniel Twining noted that the American people have also shown support for the advance of democratic values abroad. “Polling shows the American public believes supporting political freedom in the world is the right thing to do.  Investing in strengthening democratic leaders and institutions overseas enables our partners to push back against malign influence by authoritarian powers like China and Russia, reduces the conflict and lawlessness that drive mass migration, and creates a more safe, stable and prosperous world for Americans.”

The importance of supporting the values of freedom and democracy extends beyond elections, as the leaders of NED’s business and labor institutes remarked: “The global competitiveness of values and norms extends to the economic sector, with the surging influence of authoritarian capital in markets across the globe, which threatens the competitiveness of American firms,” said CIPE Executive Director Andrew Wilson.

Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau emphasized that, “democracy and the ability to exercise one’s basic human rights—including to demand a safer workplace or a more responsive government—are inextricably linked. As more people live in countries where inequality is on the rise and basic rights are eroding, the work to strengthen democracy everywhere is even more urgent.”

Gershman highlighted that NED grants provide critical financial and moral support: “When NED and its institutes provide sustained support for the innovative and often courageous efforts of activists on the frontlines of democratic change, it sends the important message of American solidarity with the struggles around the world for democracy and human rights.  With increased resources, NED and its institutes will be able to further bolster the work of activists who are our natural allies, while also countering authoritarian countries that threaten our security and democratic way of life.”

CONTACTS:

NED: Jane Riley Jacobsen, (202)378-9604, jane@ned.org; Christine Bednarz (202)378-9801, christineb@ned.org

IRI: Julia Sibley, (202) 572-1546, jsibley@iri.org

NDI: Clayton McClesky, (202) 728-5429, cmcclesky@ndi.org

CIPE: Ken Jaques, (202) 721-9245, KJaques@cipe.org

Solidarity Center: Kate Conradt, (202) 974-8369, kconradt@solidaritycenter.org

NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY (NED), NDI, IRI, CIPE AND SOLIDARITY CENTER WELCOME INCREASED FUNDING FROM CONGRESS

NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY (NED), NDI, IRI, CIPE AND SOLIDARITY CENTER WELCOME INCREASED FUNDING FROM CONGRESS

Washington, DC — The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its four core grantees, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the Solidarity Center, and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) are deeply gratified that the U.S. Congress has shown strong bipartisan support for our work with a substantial increase in NED’s annual appropriation.

On Tuesday, December 17, the House of Representatives approved a spending package that increases annual funding for the National Endowment for Democracy from $180 million to $300 million.  The Senate approved the measure on December 19 and it was signed into law by President Trump on Friday, December 20.

“We thank the Congress and welcome this robust endorsement of the NED’s mission of advancing democracy around the world,” said NED President Carl Gershman. “This work is more critical than ever before as we confront dangerous challenges to democracy, including the rise of authoritarian states like China and Russia that are undermining democratic norms and values around the world; as well as opportunities for progress in transitional countries like Ethiopia  and Sudan.”

The NED is a bipartisan, non-governmental grant-making organization with the single mission of advancing democracy around the world. Governed by an independent board of directors, NED provides support to over 1,500 non-governmental organizations annually in more than 90 countries. These groups are working to protect and advance democratic values, institutions, and processes, including credible and fair elections, independent trade unions, a robust private sector, independent media, and groups that defend human rights and the rule of law.  NED’s four core institutes share the expertise of America’s civil society with grassroots partners around the world who are working to build stable democratic societies.

“Congressional support for democracy assistance is a reflection of U.S. values and national interest – a fourth “d” alongside diplomacy, defense, and development,” said NDI President Derek Mitchell. “We are committed to ensuring sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars in support of democracy abroad, and to promote both a more peaceful, stable, and just world, and more prosperous and secure America.”

IRI President Daniel Twining noted that the American people have also shown support for the advance of democratic values abroad. “Polling shows the American public believes supporting political freedom in the world is the right thing to do.  Investing in strengthening democratic leaders and institutions overseas enables our partners to push back against malign influence by authoritarian powers like China and Russia, reduces the conflict and lawlessness that drive mass migration, and creates a more safe, stable and prosperous world for Americans.”

The importance of supporting the values of freedom and democracy extends beyond elections, as the leaders of NED’s business and labor institutes remarked: “The global competitiveness of values and norms extends to the economic sector, with the surging influence of authoritarian capital in markets across the globe, which threatens the competitiveness of American firms,” said CIPE Executive Director Andrew Wilson.

Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau emphasized that, “democracy and the ability to exercise one’s basic human rights—including to demand a safer workplace or a more responsive government—are inextricably linked. As more people live in countries where inequality is on the rise and basic rights are eroding, the work to strengthen democracy everywhere is even more urgent.”

Gershman highlighted that NED grants provide critical financial and moral support: “When NED and its institutes provide sustained support for the innovative and often courageous efforts of activists on the frontlines of democratic change, it sends the important message of American solidarity with the struggles around the world for democracy and human rights.  With increased resources, NED and its institutes will be able to further bolster the work of activists who are our natural allies, while also countering authoritarian countries that threaten our security and democratic way of life.”

CONTACTS:

NED: Jane Riley Jacobsen, (202)378-9604, jane@ned.org; Christine Bednarz (202)378-9801, christineb@ned.org

IRI: Julia Sibley, (202) 572-1546, jsibley@iri.org

NDI: Clayton McClesky, (202) 728-5429, cmcclesky@ndi.org

CIPE: Ken Jaques, (202) 721-9245, KJaques@cipe.org

Solidarity Center: Kate Conradt, (202) 974-8369, kconradt@solidaritycenter.org

Africa Unions Address Gender-Based Violence at Work

Africa Unions Address Gender-Based Violence at Work

Delegates to the International Trade Union Confederation–Africa (ITUC-Africa) last week passed a resolution drafted by women union leaders that will help the organization’s 101 affiliates address gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work, including pressing African governments to ratify International Labor Organization (ILOConvention 190.

Passed in June, Convention 190 is a new global treaty to prevent and address violence and harassment in the world of work that includes gender-based violence and harassment.

Delegates from more than 47 African countries gathered in the Nigerian capital of Abuja for the 4th Ordinary Congress of the ITUC-Africa’s Regional Organization November 21 and 22. Held every four years, the Congress sets labor’s priorities and direction on behalf of Africa’s working people, both internally and in its dealings with governments and employers.

“The trade union movement in Africa has tremendous power to influence the future not only of the continent but the world,” said AFL-CIO Vice President Tefere Gebre, speaking to delegates.

Some 45 women leaders of unions from across the continent—many of whom have long been engaged in a global campaign to end gender-based violence and harassment at work—presented their recommendations to the full Congress, which the ITUC-Africa leadership formally adopted.

The resolution includes the following recommendations for African unions and ITUC-Africa:

  • Women trade union leaders participate in worker negotiations with employers, so gender-based violence and harassment at work is prioritized
  • Going forward, negotiated agreements with employers include language that explicitly addresses gender-based violence and harassment at work
  • ITUC-Africa provide support for union affiliates that are lobbying their governments to adopt Convention 190.
Africa Unions Address Gender-Based Violence at Work

Africa Unions Address Gender-Based Violence at Work

Delegates to the International Trade Union Confederation–Africa (ITUC-Africa) last week passed a resolution drafted by women union leaders that will help the organization’s 101 affiliates address gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work, including pressing African governments to ratify International Labor Organization (ILOConvention 190.

Passed in June, Convention 190 is a new global treaty to prevent and address violence and harassment in the world of work that includes gender-based violence and harassment.

Delegates from more than 47 African countries gathered in the Nigerian capital of Abuja for the 4th Ordinary Congress of the ITUC-Africa’s Regional Organization November 21 and 22. Held every four years, the Congress sets labor’s priorities and direction on behalf of Africa’s working people, both internally and in its dealings with governments and employers.

“The trade union movement in Africa has tremendous power to influence the future not only of the continent but the world,” said AFL-CIO Vice President Tefere Gebre, speaking to delegates.

Some 45 women leaders of unions from across the continent—many of whom have long been engaged in a global campaign to end gender-based violence and harassment at work—presented their recommendations to the full Congress, which the ITUC-Africa leadership formally adopted.

The resolution includes the following recommendations for African unions and ITUC-Africa:

  • Women trade union leaders participate in worker negotiations with employers, so gender-based violence and harassment at work is prioritized
  • Going forward, negotiated agreements with employers include language that explicitly addresses gender-based violence and harassment at work
  • ITUC-Africa provide support for union affiliates that are lobbying their governments to adopt Convention 190.
40+ Haitian Labor Groups Call for Vast Reforms

40+ Haitian Labor Groups Call for Vast Reforms

More than 40 labor organizations in Haiti joined a call for vast nationwide legal reforms, including free and fair elections and the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse. The move follows weeks of massive demonstrations against rampant government corruption and wasteful spending that has devastated the economy.

The most recent round of protests began September 2, sparked by fuel shortages, spiraling inflation, a lack of safe drinking water, environmental degradation and food scarcity. Factories, schools, and businesses have sporadically closed with the near daily protests. In one of the largest rallies to date, thousands turned out on Sunday in a peaceful demonstration, with human rights organizations, popular artists, and business leaders joining unions, young workers and the many others hard-hit by the country’s economic crisis.

In the Joint Declaration for a National Rescue Government, issued October 11, more than 100 organizations—including three Solidarity Center union partners–urge all segments of society to join together to demand a return of public services and implementation of an emergency program for the most vulnerable groups. The Joint Declaration also seeks an end to the culture of impunity in the judicial system and demands a clean accounting of public finances.

More than 60 percent of Haitians survive on less $2 a day, and more than 2.5 million fall below the extreme poverty line of $1.23 per day. Haitians are outraged that the island has received millions of dollars in aid since the 2010 earthquake, but public services and infrastructure are nearly nonfunctional.

A Solidarity Center survey this year found that the daily minimum wage for export apparel workers in Haiti is $5.07—more than four times less than the estimated cost of living. These workers—the majority of whom are women who support families—are forced to toil longer for less due to diminished purchasing power and are unable to cover daily necessities, including food.

The High Cost of Low Wages in Haiti,” which tracked living expenses for garment workers from September 2018 through March 2019, recommends the government increase the minimum wage to an estimated $18.30 per day and allow workers to select their own representatives to the country’s tripartite minimum wage committee. Unions are advocating for these measures and raise them as key remedies to addressing the crisis underway.

Pin It on Pinterest