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Colombia: US Embassy Staff Beat GM Protesters
Weekly News Update on the Americas / Friday 5 December 2014 / Español

Colombian national police and several employees of the US embassy in Bogota kicked and beat injured former employees of GM Colmotores, the Colombian subsidiary of the Detroit-based General Motors Company (GM), during a protest in front of the embassy on Nov. 18, according to the workers and to a report by a local television 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 11/23/14; Asotrecol supporter’s email 11/24/14)