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Colombian death squad forces its victims to flee

June 22, 2001 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,

Carlos Castaño is the commander of a Colombian army of assassins known as Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), which means United Self-Defense of Colombia.

Castaño's arrogance is as giant as his lack of shame.

In mid-April, he did a television interview in which he spoke about his plans to kidnap Camilo Gómez, Colombia's high commissioner for peace.

The interview was made possible by the Ardila Group, one of the most influential groups among the Colombian elite.

Hours later, 500 of Castaño's gunmen were carrying out an attack against an indigenous area--forcing 7,000 people to flee their homes for Buenaventura.

But this is only the most recent in a long list of atrocities perpetrated by Castaño.

In December 2000, there was an attempt on the life of Wilson Borja, president of the public-sector union.

Borja survived, but one of his guards and an innocent street vendor were killed.

Days later Carlos Castaño was interviewed and admitted sending the gunmen who shot Borja.

Although Castaño had claimed that the aim had been to kidnap--not kill--Borja, the gunmen in this "kidnapping attempt" fired more than 50 shots.

Borja is now out of the country.

He had to leave for fear that he or his family would be killed.

But the workers in his union haven't forgotten him.

And the best way they have to let him know that they have not been defeated is to fight back, as they did recently.

On March 22, they held a 24-hour strike against the brutal new "fiscal adjustment" proposed by President Pastrana.

This includes firing 70,000 public employees, slashing health and education spending and pushing through a new wave of privatization.

And during a related 48-hour strike, another union joined the public-sector union to protest the systematic killing of workers and union leaders.

Orlando Sepulveda, Chicago

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