In a powerful statement released today, more than 400 trade union leaders, elected officials, scholars and former presidents from over 20 countries – including UNI Global Union, UNI Americas and many of our affiliate unions – are calling for a robust defence of Colombian democracy in the face of a “soft coup” against the country’s first-ever progressive government.
Since elected in August 2022, the administration of President Gustavo Petro and Vice President Francia Márquez has advanced a series of ambitious, necessary changes to the nation’s laws. For example, the government is currently pushing through labour reforms that would guarantee workers’ fundamental human rights in the country.
The letter, organized by Progressive International, says that in response to these popular reforms, “Colombia’s traditional powers have been organizing to restore an order marked by extreme inequality, environmental destruction, and state-sponsored violence. . . .They are deploying the combined institutional power of the country’s regulatory agencies, media conglomerates, and judiciary branch to halt [the administration’s] reforms, intimidate its supporters, topple its leadership, and defame its image on the international stage.”
Military leaders have even marched outside of Congress to call for a coup d’état against the Petro government.
The statement calls on friends of the Colombian people and allies of democracy everywhere to stand up against these insidious tactics and prevent the advance of a soft coup in Colombia.
“We cannot stand by while entrenched, undemocratic forces try to stop progress in Colombia,” said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. “This attack on democracy is clarion call for the global labour movement to rally around the Petro administration, to stand with the Colombian people and to realize the hope these reforms represent.”
Marcio Monzane, Regional Secretary of UNI Americas, said, “The Colombian people have been through decades of internal armed conflict and violence and have seen their rights trampled by many of the forces organizing this soft coup. They voted for this administration because they wanted change, because they wanted peace, and because they wanted to freely exercise their rights. Unions from around the region are in solidarity to defend democracy and human rights in Colombia.”
Read the statement in full below or here.