Donahue: Conspiracy To Silence Francisco Ramírez?
Donahue: Is the Colombian Government Conspiring with Drummond to Silence Francisco Ramírez?
October 18, 2006
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The Narco New Bulletin has reported several times on Drummond Coal's activities in Colombia, including the recent article by Stephen Flanagan Jackson detailing the current Dutch lawsuit charging the company with money laundering and other wrongdoing. Today, Sean Donahue expands on Drummond's actions in Colombia and its close relationship with the Uribe administration. Donahue reports that Francisco Ramírez Cuellar, a union leader and outspoken critic of Drummond's Colombia operation, may be facing a plot between Drummond and the government to silence him.
"Ramírez has made himself some powerful enemies - foremost among them, Drummond Coal, the Alabama-based company that his union is suing in a U.S. court for conspiring with right-wing paramilitaries to murder and torture two labor organizers. Drummond has friends in high places. On October 5, the Administrative Department of Security (DAS) announced that it had determined that, despite a recent increase in threats and harassment, Ramírez was in a 'low risk situation' and no longer needed the same level of protection. They took back his armored car and cancelled his guards' radio service, leaving him vulnerable to attack."
"...The DAS is charged with ensuring the safety of union organizers, journalists, jurists, and human rights activists who are receiving death threats - a measure the Colombian government has grudgingly acceded to in order to make it easier for the U.S. Congress to continue justifying sending military aid to Colombia. But the DAS is also the nation's top intelligence agency, charged with rooting out subversion. Under an administration that views labor and human rights groups as subversive, that puts the agency at odds with the very people it is charged with protecting.
"At a bare minimum, the DAS demonstrated extreme incompetence in reassessing Ramírez' security situation. Their 'security study' took less than ten minutes and ignored what SINTRAMINERCOL describes as a recent 'increase in threats, tailings, harassments, spying on the union office and the house of Francisco Ramírez.'"
The ties between Uribe and Drummond are impossible to ignore. Drummond's former chief Colombia representative, Fabio Echeverri Correa, is now Uribe's top advisor. The two go back a long way together, and their work in the 1980s and 90s was intricately tied up in both the development of the Medellín drug cartel and the phenomenon of paramilitarism.
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