October 23, 2008
For Immediate Release

Toronto Rally in solidarity with Colombia on October 23, 2008

Rally picAn emergency picket was held on October 23rd in front of the Colombian Consulate in Toronto (Canada) in solidarity with a 24 hour work stoppage by affiliates of the Colombian Central Trade Union Federation, and with rallies being held by the Colombian student movement. The Toronto protesters raised their voices to demand strict observance of human rights in Colombia, and also chanted “hey-hey, ho-ho, the FTA with Colombia has got to go”.

Common Frontiers-Canada and the Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance (CASA) organised the event on short notice, along with the Toronto and York District Labour Council, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) – International Solidarity Committee, and the Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA) – Toronto Support Group.

Speakers* representing the organizing groups, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiative, and the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) – Human Rights Committee, brought messages of solidarity and called for an end to the state policy of genocide towards trade unionists, indigenous people and the social movement. The speakers also called for support of the ongoing cane cutters strike, for striking public sector unions, and for the indigenous march to Cali.

The labour and community activists at this rally were one in denouncing and repudiating the Colombian government’s use of violence and repression to respond to legitimate and peaceful social protests. The Toronto picket endorsed the call coming from Colombia that international labour and social justice organizations back Colombian popular movement demands for the observance of workers’ rights, for improved wages and for putting a stop to neo-liberal economic policies.

Several speakers put the Harper government on notice over its complicity with the Uribe regime in Colombia. The rally ended with a final call for Canadian labour and the social justice movements to increase the pressure on the newly re-elected Conservative Stephen Harper government to repeal the signing of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement – a closed-door deal that is opposed by significant sectors of civil society in both Colombia and Canada.

- Click here see photos from the rally

*Speakers by name and in order of their interventions at the rally:

Rick Arnold – CF. [Introductory and concluding remarks]
Mehdi Kouhestani – CLC
Luis Alberto Matta - CASA
Judy Rebick – TBSC
William Castilla – PDA
Rachel Warden – KAIROS
Roger Langen - OSSTF


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