Colombian Asotrecol worker talks with WW

Jorge Parra is president of the Association of Injured Workers and Ex-workers of General Motors Colombia, known as Asotrecol. He was interviewed on Oct. 7 by WW reporter Martha Grevatt, a 25-year Chrysler worker. Parra and other members of Asotrecol had been on a hunger strike to get GM to meet with them.

Workers World: Why did you end the hunger strike?

Jorge Parra: Because we wanted to show our willingness to seek a just and definitive solution, and we hope that with this gesture of good faith, GM will listen to our pleas. We workers are ill, and we need an urgent solution; we want the United Auto Workers to help us, and we want to be part of the solution.

WW: Describe the support of the working class and community organizations in Detroit.

JP: It has been a wonderful experience. We received much support. I believe that in the end we all belong to the same working class with the same dreams. I have learned a lot from all of the people here, and I am grateful for this opportunity. Certainly the workers must organize and share struggles like ours. The basis of union organizing is definitely solidarity with our brothers and sisters.

WW: How many groups have you spoken to?

JP: I shared our situation with organizations, unions, churches, universities, and I sincerely hope to obtain their help. We really need all their support. It has also been very good to learn from their struggles and share our struggle with them.

WW: How are your compañeros in Bogota?

JP: They are very ill and have been so for much of the time of our struggle. The saddest case is that of our friend Ferney. His child is very sick and has cerebral palsy and requires many treatments that have not been done due to lack of medical services; it is a very urgent case.

There is also the case of Carlos Trujillo. The bank wants to take his home and is about to expel him from his house. He has four young children and a spouse. He would have no choice but to live with the rest of us in the tents in front of the embassy.

Manuel with his five children and Pedro with his two children are without a home in which they can live. Pedro has already lost his home to the banks, and also Jair, Juan Carlos, Fabio, Wilson Rafael, Daniel, Neira. We are all about to lose everything.

WW: Are you closer to a resolution?

JP: That’s what we hope for. We tell the truth and we fight for what’s right. GM Corporation has to listen to us and do the right things. We fought hard and our families deserve to be left in peace.

WW What is the importance of international solidarity?

JP: It is the most important thing, because definitely your support has allowed us to have these opportunities to talk to everyone and make our needs visible. International pressure has been the only thing that might give us the hope of a solution. In our country only international pressure works, and this is why I pray that our international allies continue to help us.

WW: Is there anything else ?

JP: I thank you all for helping and keeping us in your prayers. We just want for the first time in our country that these injustices can be resolved. Our struggle has become a clear example of how our country should greatly improve these labor conditions and purge the Ministry of Labor of its corrupt employees that cost our government its credibility. All this is written in our laws. The sad thing is that it is not practiced. It’s not fair that we have to wait so long for the government to enforce the laws, but we will not give up our fight for our rights. Today we completed more than 437 days on strike, living in the streets.