Since then, they have gone through a series of 4 dramatic hunger strikes with their lips stitched closed with a needle and thread and have maintained the tent encampment to this day- over 1000 days of occupation. The injured workers have received death threats and been victims of politically motivated crimes.
But the pressure that they have generated has resulted in improved conditions within the plant, including $6 million worth of ergonomic improvements to the assembly line and the opportunity for new hires to organize without the same degree of retaliation. Though GM acknowledged the legitimacy of their grievances by sitting down to negotiate with them, the company offered a pittance of a settlement- it was not even enough to cover the back surgeries that many of them need as a result of showing up to work every day. This is a significant shirking of GM’s legal responsibility to these workers as laid out by Colombian law.
So while GM has refused to settle, the workers, permanently disabled, have been unable to find employment and have been slowly sliding into financial misery. Currently injured worker Carlos Trujillo is facing the foreclosure of his home. Luckily he has connected with a foreclosure resistance group on the ground in Bogota, Victimas de Banqueros and they have gone through his papers and found that Colpatria bank (which is owned by Scotiabank) is carrying out fraud in Carlos’ case. They are challenging it legally, though the Colombian courts are tilted heavily toward the banks, and we are trying to create an international outcry. We feel that the mere evidence of this case gaining international attention will create a significant amount of pressure and might be enough to prevent the foreclosure.
As I said, we are a network of individuals in the U.S. Our Detroit team is located close enough to the Canadian border to be planning a trip to Windsor to deliver a letter and do an action in front of Scotiabank. We are hoping to connect with others in Canada who might be willing to do similar actions in their cities as well as to participate in actions such as faxing the president of Colpatria in Colombia (we have a free way to send an international fax online).
We would very much appreciate any connection you can make for us with individuals involved especially in Latin America solidarity and foreclosure resistance campaigns in Canada, although we would be more than happy to work with anyone who cares about human rights or who is interested in supporting this international foreclosure resistance campaign.
I would appreciate any contacts that you could give me. We would be happy to prepare a communique as well as a list of actions that individuals and groups can take.