Declaración del Comité Ejecutivo Latinoamericano de la UITA sobre el diferendo entre Ecuador y Colombia

Declaration on the Ecuador-Colombia dispute by the Latin American Executive Committee of the IUF

Intelligence and sense must speak up so that weapons may be silenced


“With war, the land of landowners increases,
the needs of the needy increase, the speeches
of the generals increase, and the silence of men grows.”

Bertolt Brecht



There is growing concern over the recent events affecting Ecuador and Colombia. Whatever may happen on a political and diplomatic level, the situation calls for the labor movement to strengthen its traditional values and the principles that have guided its beliefs and actions for centuries. These principles are unity in democracy and diversity, equality, pluralism, solidarity, struggle and negotiation.


The labor movement assumed an essential and decisive role in resisting and overthrowing the devastating dictatorships that hit our region and trampled human and labor rights. We know what State terrorism is because we experienced it first-hand, and we also know that a negligent State makes for the best breeding ground for terrorism.


Despite suffering violent persecution in some countries, the labor movement has always acted as a peacemaking agent. We women and men workers defend Life. For us, organizing in democracy means unity in diversity, a unity where the other is not an adversary, but rather somebody different with whom we can fight side by side when we need to defend rights that are common to us all.


Yet reality shows us that some prefer war, polarization, uniformity, homogeneity, monopolization and centralization of power. These choices have left very deep imprints in the recent history of our countries, and we might even say that almost without exceptions these imprints are identical throughout all of Latin America. Some political lessons have also emerged over the years, lessons which should be permanently engraved in all of our minds. One such lesson, which while very old is often forgotten, is that the end does not justify the means.


This means that pursuing a worthy aim is no excuse for resorting to any method indiscriminately. History has taught us, over and over again, that more than victory itself, what’s important is how victory is obtained. We unionists know that some impressive victories are achieved at a very high cost, and that there are others, perhaps more modest and silent, which fortify and herald many more victories.


The labor movement rejects all forms of violence, whatever their origin. It rejects violence exercised through weapons and bombs –even when such bombs are “intelligent”–, whatever its origin may be, whatever purpose it may have. It also rejects the violence of inequality, of lack of freedom, of injustice and impunity, of violation of human and labor rights. And its method for rejecting these forms of violence is to generate and further more and better forms of social organization, building bridges to unite the various movements and social interests, and remaining firm in its commitment to the conception of life that considers that human beings achieve their greatest fulfillment in association with others. We also know that the enemy is not the worker in our neighboring country, but the exploiter in any country.


Even as we condemn certain practices, we remain historically committed to the respect for sovereignty, self-determination, democracy and the legitimacy of the order that governs the international community.


In the deplorable case at hand, we acknowledge Ecuador’s right to demand that it be respected in its exclusive and sovereign rule over its own territory, and therefore we condemn the invasion perpetrated by the military incursion ordered by the Colombian government. We also reject the methods employed by the FARC and the paramilitary groups, in particular the kidnapping and murder of unarmed civilians –including dozens of members of our rural and labor organizations–, to whom the war logic imposed on them is totally alien.


We also object to President Hugo Chávez’ extreme stance, as it is apparently based on a logic comparable to that of those he claims to combat.


The Latin American Executive Committee of the IUF, representing 69 organizations from 17 countries, joins its voice to the clamor of those who are demanding an immediate end to the escalating confrontation in the form of violent words and gestures, and who are calling for multilateral forums to be prioritized as the only scenario and framework for the resolution of the current confrontations.


It also reaffirms its active commitment to defending democracy and pluralism, and to the ongoing struggle to fully apply and deepen these processes, so that our peoples may live with greater social justice, greater freedom, and greater opportunities for integral development, in a climate of peace and safety.


Latin American Executive Committee of the IUF

Montevideo, March 6, 2008





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