Solidarity with Argentinian Oil Workers
La Federacion Obrera Regional Argentina (Regional Workers Federation of Argentina, FORA-AIT) is taking part in actions to secure the acquittal of workers organizing in Santa Cruz, Argentina who have been charged with murder as part of their protests, sentenced to life in prison, and allegedly tortured. We are reprinting a translation of their reports. The first is their press release explaining the situation, the second is a report of a solidarity action that occurred today in Buenos Aires.
The 12th of December 2013, the Judicial Power of Santa Cruz condemned four oil workers- Ramon Cortez, Jose Rosalez, Franco Padilla, y Hugo Gonzalez- to life imprisonment and another six to five years in prison for alleged aggrevated coercion, injury, and murder of a police officer.
All that was shown at the trial was that the convicted had suffered torture in order to force a confession that was justified by the prosecutor minimizing torture. In 2006, the oil workers of Las Heras demanded, through their own union framework in the oil realm that is actually working and not that of UOCRA [an Argentina national construction union], a new collective agreement with better pay scales and working conditions, demanding increasing non-taxable income from which the amount workers must pay to income tax is accounted.
When the strike and mobilizations took twenties days the Judicial Power ordered the detention of various workers. The oil workers reacted by marching on the courthouse to demand their release and were brutally repressed. In confusing circumstances, a policeman Jorge Sayago fell dead. Seventeen workers were arrested (in various neighborhoods) and accused of misdeeds and murder, with the police installing a climate of terror in the population.
This criminalization of the demands of workers is nothing new. During the repression at the Borda Hospital workers were similarly arrested-unlike the functionaries of Macri who were absolved- and the workers who struggle as delegates of Emfer, Lear, and Kraft in the northern area of Greater Buenos Aires were persecuted through the militarized police. A worker of the bus line 60 was condemned to seven months in prison for only demanding being reinstated. We also demand his acquittal.
The Regional Workers Federation of Argentina (FORA-AIT) expresses its strongest condemnation to the sentence given to those who fight the injustice trying to bury them alive by the oil companies and Argentine State. That is why the FORA extend our deep solidarity with the oil workers of Las Heras and encourage more workers to join the campaign for their acquittal.
So that solidarity is not only a word that is written and ideas are not lost behind bars, workers should go out with all our strength and return our convicted comrades to their homes.
The 15th of January 2014 the Resistance Society of Various Trades of the Capital (FORA-AIT Buenos Aires) had a day of action en solidarity with the oil workers of Las Heras. It took place near the house of the Santa Cruz province, locate
d in downtown Buenos Aires.
We were met by an excessive and unprecedented police action that prevented access to the doors of the provincial house. This demonstrated the interests of the State to silence whichever type of protest related to the life sentence of the oil workers of Las Heras. The operation was not limited areas near the provincial house, but also we were “escorted” by federal police with cellphones after the action had completed.
The workers of the FORA continue with our brothers in the south, no matter what obstacles may be placed in our way. So now more than ever:
SOLIDARITY AND DIRECT ACTION
FOR THE ABSOLUTION OF THE OIL WORKERS OF LAS HERAS