Since August of this year, communities in Pasacaballos and Cartagena, as well as workers from the company Pacific Infrastructure Ventures Inc, subsidiary of Pacific Rubiales, initiated a series of protests demanding better working conditions, improved work safety, and a just, fair pay.
Pacific Rubiales funded a port society called Puerto Bahía, that would be in charge of constructing a multipurpose port, that would be for the loading of petroleum that would arrive from the Bicentenario Pipeline, one of the contentious projects where Pacific Rubiales is a primary stakeholder.
To avoid labor commitments, fines, and to hide the amount of crude oil exported, Pacific Rubiales created three other companies: Isolux Corsan, Tradeco, and Tanp Thanks. These companies contract their workers through 46 different companies, which are responsible for carrying out the required work to finish the construction of the Multi-purpose Port.
This complicated labor situation ended in the utilization of unions like the Union of Workers of the Petroleum Industry, subsidiary of CGT, which signed a labor agreement with the Portal Society, that did not comply with the demands by the workers for dignified labor conditions in the petroleum industry.
In response to the worrying labor situation of the workers and the negative impacts that the construction is having on the community members of Pasacaballos, the workers and the community joined the Workers Syndicalist Union of the Petroleum Industry (la Unión Sindical Obrera de la Industria del Petróleo- la USO), so that they could help the community with the presentation of their complaints and organize them into a the union. On October 7th, they organized a labor and social protest, as a last resource to ask the owners of the company to act and grant rights to the workers.
The response to this action was the detention of Rafael Cabarcas Cabarcas who was violently taken out of his security vehicle, dragged and hit by police officers under the order of Lieutenant Viloria. Rafael is the advisor of the USO Subdirective of Cartagena and member of the regional chapter of Polo Democratic Alternative Party of Bolivar and Congreso de los Pueblos. Hours later, Edwin Castro, Luis Jinete (body guard), and Hugo Lagos, workers from the contract company Enpriria were detained. In this moment They are in the police station.
These aggressive and egregious actions against the workers have been seen in the other regions where the USO is active in organizing workers and communities. Also often where there are distinct contract companies and and the Canadian company Pacific Rubiales. In addition to their arrests, threats immediately appeared from illegal armed groups and the police have been brutally repressing the community and worker's protests. In this case, there had already been threats against Rafael Cabarcas, Rodolfo Prada, and JOaquín Padilla.
We are asking for:
The immediate liberty and freedom of RAFAEL CABARCAS CABARCAS, EDWIN CASTRO, HUGO LAGOS and LUIS JINETE.
That the contract companies, EcoPetrol S-A, and Pacific Rubiales respect the reclamation for lab oral and human rights that are being asked for by the workers and the communities from Pasacaballos and Cartagena.
That the minister of work, the Ombudsman, and other competent authorities will give recognition to labor rights, will respect human rights and rights to protest, which are enshrines in the laws and in our national constitution.
We believe the national government, their public forces and the companies, are responsible for the physical injuries of the detained people and for the risk to their lives, as well as the threats made against them and other sindicalist leaders in Puerto Bahía, where these actions took place.
JUNTA DIRECTIVA NACIONAL DE LA UNIÓN SINDICAL OBRERA DE LA INDUSTRIA DEL PETRÓLEO
COMISIÓN NACIONAL DE DERECHOS HUMANOS Y PAZ U.S.O