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Students and Musicians Support Colombian Sugar Cane Workers

by Andrea Bachmann In Bogotá this past Sunday, October 3rd, student organizers joined several music groups and social organizations to host a concert in support of Valle de Cauca sugar cane workers who are facing judicial proceedings for the 2008 strike against unjust working conditions.

During the strike on June 14, 2008, over 18,000 sugar cane cutters and their families organized to demand fair wages and better working hours. For exercising their constitutional right to protest, six leaders of the strike are being tried for crimes against the state, including conspiracy and sabotage. They now await the verdict of their trial.

Strike leaders address supporters at “Cortazo.” Two signs in front of the stage read, “We are in solidarity with the June 14th Sugar Cane Cutters’ Movement” and “Protest is not a crime.”

At Sunday’s “Cortazo” concert, a host of supporters gathered to demonstrate solidarity with the sugar cane workers and the strike, known as the June 14th Movement. The six prosecuted – four sugar cane cutters and two advisers to a senator’s office – were present to hear various musicians denounce the judicial action against them and to express to the crowd both their gratitude and their firm commitment to this fight for justice.

The six leaders facing prosecution, from left to right: Alberto Bejarano, José Oney Valencia, Oscar Bedoya, Omar Sedano, Raul Chacon, Juan Pablo Ochoa. Andrea Bachmann is an intern with Witness for Peace.


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