Colombia: US embassy staff beat GM protesters

Colombian national police and several employees of the US embassy in Bogotá kicked and beat injured former employees of GM Colmotores, Colombian subsidiary of the Detroit-based General Motors Company (GM), during a protest in front of the embassy Nov. 18, according to the workers and a report by local TV station Canal Capital. Members of the Association of Injured Workers and Ex-Workers of Colmotores (Asotrecol) have been encamped outside the embassy since August 2011 as part of a campaign to get GM to reinstate them and compensate them for the injuries they received while working at the plant. The attack came on a day when the workers' supporters in the US filed a complaint with the US Justice Department and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charging GM with bribing Colombian officials in violation of a US law, the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Some Asotrecol members decided to step up their protest on Nov. 18 by chaining themselves to a post outside the embassy. Although the nonviolent action didn't block access to the building, US embassy employees in suits joined Colombian police in cutting the chains and then apparently beating and kicking three of the protesting workers. Asotrecol president José Parra was arrested, although the authorities released him the next day. The workers' supporters are urging US-based activists to contact the embassy (011-57-1-275-2000, and request the release of the names of the embassy personnel who participated in the attack. (The Real News, Nov. 23; Asotrecol supporter's email Nov. 24/14)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, November 30.