Thursday, March 27, 2014


Below you find the press release of 22 of March of the Ukranian Trade Union confederation VOST “VOLYA” about the position of the Russian Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia FNPR, which supported the armed intervention of Russia against Ukraine and the following annexation of the Crimea.

On the 1st of March the Council of Federation of Russia gave Putin its consent to use Russian armed forces in Ukraine and, as the official website of the FNPR informs, on the next day in Moscow under an active part of the FNPR the manifestation of solidarity took place for the support of the so-called compatriots” and the people of Ukraine who has become a victim of political adventurers and nationalists. 

As the website of the FNPR informs, from the 3rd of March to the 18th of March structures of the FNPR organized the same meetings in Belgorod, Bryansk, Vladimir, Volgograd, Novocherkask and other cities of Russia. At these events they supported the aggressive land-grabbing policy of Putin towards Ukraine, the armed intervention and annexation of the Crimea and called the new legitimate Ukrainian government, the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian workers who won the criminal, extremely corrupted, bloody dictator regime to be fascists and nazis that is a cynic overt lie in the manner of kremlin-NKVD and Goebbels propaganda. The FNPR stir up hostility in Ukraine and seed chauvinism in Russia by these actions and by insulting, humiliating and false characteristics about the Ukrainian people who overthrew the tyrant. 

The above-mentioned position of the FNPR has nothing to do with the respect for workers’ rights in their aspiration to decent work in the independent democratic civilized just Ukrainian state and the principles of
international trade union solidarity the FNPR should have kept as a member organization of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) (VOST is a member of the same organization) and its European branch –
Pan-European Regional Council (PERC).

all international, regional, national trade union centers and public organizations:
to express the strong protest against the shameful position of the FNPR which supported the land grabbing armed intervention of Russia against Ukraine and annexation of the Crimea
to consider actions of the FNPR which humiliate the dignity of the Ukrainian people who made the Revolution of Dignity to be unacceptable
- to define whether the further cooperation and contacts with the FNPR are acceptable”

Russian Prime Minister Putin was one of the Very Important Persons at the
Jubilee Meeting of the General Council devoted to the 20th anniversary
of the FNPR on September 18th, 2010. The Jubilee meeting was held at
Moscow's Pillar Hall of the House of Unions.
(See Front page of the ILO Newsletter of the Decent Work Technical Support Team
and Country Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 3 (42) September 2010)

The ITUC/PERC published the following statement on its website “The conditions for operation of trade unions in Ukraine.”

24 March 2014: Following the dramatic events in Ukraine since November 2013 the country is facing very serious challenges ahead which will necessitate full mobilisation of the creative energy of the people and sound public consensus on the way out of the crisis. Social dialogue and trade unions are key to a developing a comprehensive and balanced policy of reforms that takes account of all interests involved. They can make a major input in preventing dangerous accumulations of negative social effects in the implementation process that can lead to eruptions of social discontent and further complication of the stabilisation and recovery process.

The above statement does not refer to the violation of the borders of Ukraine by the Russian military invasion of the Crimea with the ultimate result of the annexation of the Crimea. This territorial violation by Russia has led to great unrest among the European nations, especially in the Baltic states, which due to their past history with the Soviet Union, have Russian minorities within their borders. With its actions Russia evokes memories from the times of the Cold War, when the Soviet dictatorship extended to almost half of the European countries, and Europe was cruelly divided by the so-called Iron Curtain.

In contrast, the ETUC calls in its “Five-Point Plan for Ukraine” to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the withdrawal of all armed forces.
A five-point plan for immediate measures to secure a peaceful and acceptable way out of the crisis in Ukraine was endorsed by the ETUC at their executive committee meeting on 11-12 March 2014.
Trade union organisations representing workers throughout the European continent call for:
  • De-escalation of tensions, respect for the Ukrainian Constitution, territorial integrity and withdrawal of all armed forces;
  • Free and fair elections to shift to a genuine democratic political system, respect for the rights of all, and investigation of all acts of violence, illegal appropriation of public money and abuse of public office;
  • Economic assistance packages from the EU and international financial institutions,
  • Dialogue between Government, employers and trade unions, and
  • Support for efficient and affordable public services, including priority for stability measures.”

    The below Statement of the Federal Executive Board of the Confederation of German Trade Unions DGB regarding the current events in Ukraine, is mostly in line with the ETUC Five-Point Plan.

4 March 2014: The Federal Executive Board of the Confederation of German Trade Unions is deeply concerned about the current events in Ukraine. It calls on all those involved to do everything possible to avoid a military conflict.
International law and human rights should be respected by all parties, especially regarding
 the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine
 the protection of minority rights in Ukraine
 the ruling out of further escalation of the conflict in Crimea and in other parts of Ukraine

The DGB Federal Executive Board strongly believes that decisions regarding the future development of Ukraine and its regions require wide democratic legitimacy. Ukraine needs a perspective for the future that can only be agreed through dialogue, and not through armed force. We urge all those with positions of responsibility in Ukraine, in Russia and in the European Union to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict.”

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

THE DOWNFALL OF THE WCL (Part 28: European Christian Miners)

On the 15th of December 1997 The European Federation of Christian Miners Unions EFCMU ceased to exist. For the sake of international solidarity the members of the Federation decided to continue as a European Foundation of Christian Miners. From left to right: Secretary General Antoine Cuyvers (Belgium), President Franz Breuer (Germany), and the President of the new Foundation Jean Marc Mohr (France)

WCL Meetings in Mangalia, Rumania

In order to use the limited resources as efficiently as possible, activities were combined as much as possible. In September 1994, a seminar was held, followed by a meeting of the European Coordination Comitee and Coordination Comitee Central and Eastern Europe in Mangalia on the Romanian Black Sea coast. The seminar was for participants from Central and Eastern Europe. The theme was "Migration and Minorities". In my notes I read that the 3 hour journey from the capital Bucharest to Mangalia was too long. I read in my notes also that the hotel had the well known depressing atmosphere of old communist hotels, despite the presence of Dutch and Flemish vacationers. But it was very cheap.

The travel expenses for participants from Central and Eastern Europe to Mangalia were low because most participants could come by car or train. Because the Western European participants paid their own travel expenses, their expenses were not paid by the WCL. Such a combination of activities meant, on the one hand, a cut in costs but on the other hand also an additional burden on the Secretariat. Thanks to the support of Cartel alpha it was all still to do.

European Federation of Christian Miners Unions EFCMU

In October 1994, the European Federation of Christian Miners Unions EFCMU organized a seminar on the problems - read closures- of coal mines. Besides the usual participants from Western Europe (Germany, France and Belgium) also delegations from Poland and Romania were present. Speakers included representatives of the European Commission and the European Coal and Steel Community. The seminar was held in the Jean Monnet Building of the European Union in Luxembourg. At the seminar it was clear that in the future more coal mines will be closed in France and Germany, and that the same is going to happen in countries like Poland and Romania.

With the future closure of the coal mines in Western, Central and Eastern Europe, the future of EFCMU looked bleak. But despite this bleak outlook, the Board of the EFCMU decided to continue in one way or another in favor of the Romanian, Polish and other miners unions in Central and Eastern Europe, and if possible also in the rest of the world. (See also part 23 of 'TheFall of the WCL').

In March 1999, the EFCM organized with the support of the Hungarian confederation Munkastancsok a European miners seminar in Budapest  presided by EFCM President Jean Marc Mohr.  

On the 15th of December 1997, the Federation decided to cease to exist. Instead, an European Foundation for Christian Miners EFCM was established with the main objective to support miners' unions in Europe and the rest of the world, in building their organization for the struggle for a decent wage and labour conditions. The members of the fund paid an annual fee. Other organizations were asked for financial support for activities, for example, the Belgian Miners Fund that was established after the closure of the Belgian coalmines. The Foundation also decided to have a formal relation with the World Federation of Industrial Workers WFIW ( an international trade union federation affiliated to the WCL) by signing up a protocol. Because of the protocol, a board member of the WFIW became a member ex officio of the Board of the Foundation.

Seminar Participants of African Miners held in the city of Douala in May 1999. The seminar was supported by the Ministry of Labor of Cameroun and held in one of its buildings. During the seminar I proposed to make this kind of individual photographs with name and country in stead of the traditional group photo.
From left to right: Romuald Nuwokpe, President of the Panafrican Federation of Industrial Workers and as such responsible for the organization of the seminar. Bongali Shabala from South Africa, Souma Mamadouba from Guinee, Sidi Bouna from Mauritanie, Marcel Niabode from Central Africa, Jones Malcolm from Sierra Leone,Mensa Tchegnon from Togo, WFIW Secretary General Italo Rodomonti from belgium and André Enganabissen from Cameroun.

The closure of the mines in Europe went through. The minutes of the meeting of the European Foundation for Christian Miners held in Speyer, Germany on October 1, 2004, says on the situation of the coal mines in France and Germany:

- In April 2004, all mining activities in France have been finished.

- In Germany, there are about 20,000 miners. After 2005 there will be about 17,000 until about 2010. Until 2012, public funds are available for mining with the approval of the European Commission.

On the situation in Central and Eastern Europe, we read that:

"- In Albania still much has to be done to create a democratic trade union culture to replace the old communist culture . (The WFIW had for some time good relations with the Albanian miners leader Gezim Kalaya, who after some time became the President of the trade union confederation BSPSH - The Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania )

- WFIW Chairman Bart Bruggeman reports on a conversation he had with representatives of the South African trade union UASA . The metal and mining ( gold mining ) trade unions may want to join the WFIW.

- The Argentine Federation ATE would like to affiliate to the WCL. The miners and workers in the gas and electricity sector may affiliate to the WFIW . Carlos Gaitan, President of FLATIC ( the Latin American organisation affiliated to the WFIW) has more information." (Because of these relations, the WFIW organized a seminar for miners in Argentina. WFIW Secretary general Italo Rodomonti was present at this seminar.)

The photo has been taken in Metz (France) on the 28th of October 2005 after the meeting of the EFCM where the decision was taken to stop. Standing from left to right: Ex-President Jean Marc Mohr (France), WFIW representative Piet Nelissen (Netherlands), honorary chairman Franz Breuer (germany), special guest Robert Maurer (France), special guest Antoine Cuyvers (Belgium). Sitting from left to right:Treasurer Adalbert Ewen (Germany), President Albert Hermans (Belgium) and board member Serge Brettar (France).

Just one year later, the Foundation ceased to exist due to the proposed merger plans between WFIW with the ICEM within the context of the merger between the WCL and the ICFTU .

In the minutes of October 28, 2005 of the meeting held in Metz , France is to read the following :

“At this meeting the central question is the future of the Foundation. Our Foundation has always conducted its activities based on a protocol of cooperation with the WFIW. As is known, the WFIW has a merger agreement with ICEM since its last Congress in Senegal in june this year . Also, the WFIW Board talks with IMF about the affiliation of its metal trade unions. The question that arises, therefore, is whether it is possible to continue, given the WFIW and hence the protocol of cooperation between WFIW will cease to exist?

Serge notes that the CFTC (France) will hold its National Congress in mid-November and that will be spoken about new ways of working with other Christian organisations in Europe. Adalbert reports that also in his confederation (DGB, Germany) one is reflecting about the future and possible new and different partnerships.

The general conclusion is that the Foundation has no or at least insufficient possiblities to function. Hence the decision of the Board to submit to the General Assembly the proposal to dissolve the Foundation.”

Albert Mourer, a former member of the board of the EFCMU wrote a book on the history of the Christian coal miners of the Lorraine region in France, subtitled 3The Footprint of Christian Trade Unionsim". A well chosen subtitle. 

Thus came to an end a carefully constructed unique international solidarity network which had been build in many years with the aim to serve miners trade unions worldwide in their fight for social justice, more safety and a better income. 

Moreover, one should not forget that the European Union after World War 2 started in this border region of France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands with the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community. Reconciliation after World War 2 between these nations was brought into practice by these Christian trade unions of coalminers. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Traditionally, it was always taken a photo of the UTAL of all participants of a seminar. This is a photo of all the participants of the FETRALCOS seminar-workshop "new dimensions and restructuration of the workers organizations in the Commercial Sector, Offices and Private services Companies - Horacio Mijica- Pedro Marquez", june 10-16, 2001. On the right of the photo you see WFCW President Roel Rotshuizen. before him stands FETRALCOS President Juana Maria (Maritza) Chireno in an Africa dress she got in Lomé, Togo at the WFCW Congress in 2000.

In May 1994, I was present on behalf of the board of the World Federation of Clerical Workers WFCW at the congress of the Federation of Latin American workers in the Commercial Sector, Offices and Private Services Sector FETRALCOS in Panama. It was my first official visit to Latin America since I had become the Executive Secretary of WFCW, a job which I combined with that of Confederal Secretary of the WCL. To the outsider this might be somewhat confusing, but this combination was due to the fact that most International Trade Union Federations (ITF's) affiliated to the WCL had not enough money to finance their own secretariat and to organize international activities. Moreover, as members of the WCL they had the right on secretarial support of the WCL. It was said that such a combination would save money and be more efficient and affordable. In practice, it was difficult for the ITF's to organize their own agenda and to maintain their identity.

The federations in the continents of the Third World were mainly poor, due to lack of payment of dues by its member organizations. Obviously this is the result of poverty in many countries of the Third World, but that is not the only explanation. In the continents, the unions are organized mainly by company and not by sector. In most countries of the Third World and also in Latin America, except perhaps for example in Brazil, Collective Labor Agreements by sector are not allowed and/or recognized legally. Moreover, they are not encouraged by employers and governments. Consequently, the unions do not feel the necessity to organize its members by sector. Of course, unions could act with the aim to change the labor law to make possible sector collective agreements but it seems to have no priority at the trade unions.

As a result, companies can compete on the basis of costs of wages. The only guarantee that this does not degenerate into a race to the bottom are legal minimum wages. But in many Third World countries, many employers do not respect the legal minimum wage and governments are often too weak (or corrupted) to enforce compliance with the legal minimum wage. The result is that there are continuously conflicts in individual companies, what in turn leads to employers to keep unions out of the door as much as possible, if necessary by setting up their own trade union, called the yellow unions. This vicious circle of conflict is hard to break.

WFCW Vice-President Juana Maria Chireno (Maritza), also president of FETRALCOS, shows proudly the dress she got during the World Congress of the World Federation of Clerical Workers WFCW (now WOW) in Lomé, Togo, 2000

FETRALCOS in turn is poorer than the other continental confederations because it organizes the economically more weak sectors such as workers in the retail sector and informal workers like street traders and market vendors. FETRALCOS had and has more good will than financial resources. Still, I wanted to investigate at the Congress, if FETRALCOS in spite of its limited resources, would be able to organize its own secretariat, however minimal. Such a secretariat would provide more guarantees for the survival of the organization and conducive to its autonomy and independence.

To illustrate the participants of the Congress how this could be addressed, I made together with the Congress participants a budget for a secretariat: a part-time executive secretary, the rental of a small office, fixed expenses like electricity, water, etc., various office supplies , the initial purchase of furniture, computer, etc. and if it would be possible including a number of activities, like an annual boardmeeting and several missions to affiliated member organizations.

I estimate that we ended up on a budget of around U.S. $ 10,000. The purchase of office furniture and computers had to be financed separately. I thought there was a solution for this with the help of a one-off solidarity contribution of the world organization and / or other solidarity funds. Since there were present at the congress 15 member organizations, every organization would have to pay a contribution of about $ 650 annually. It turned out that no member organization was able to pay such a minimal annual contribution except for maybe one or two unions from Brasil and Argentine.

Two Vice-Presidents of the World Federation of Clerical Workers WFCW (now WOW) during its World Congress in Lomé, Togo in 2000: Juana Maria (Maritza) Chireno, President of FETRALCOS, and Koffi Chrysante Zounnadjala, Secretary General of the FPE.

Another way to reduce the costs of the secretariat is to bring it into a financially strong and stable member organization. In such a case, one of the board members of that affiliated trade union could also function as Executive Secretary. In the case of FETRALCOS this was not an option because Juana Maria (Maritza) Chireno, as president of FETRALCOS, had already at its disposal a small office in the UTAL building of CLAT in San Antonio, nearby Caracas.

The cost of missions and statutory meetings were captured on a more informal manner. It is common in Latin America that the participants pay their own travel expenses and the host organization pays the costs of accommodation. But even this is often too expensive for some participants, so it usually requires an extra contribution of sponsors in Latin America, such as a university or the world organization and its network of solidarity funds. On this more or less informal way FETRALCOS could organize activities already for many years.

In November 1978 I made this photograph of the "corregidor" (alcalde) before the "corregiduria" in a small Panamanian village. 

During my stay in Panama, we also visited the national confederation CGTP, a member organization of CLAT. I made the following notes at the meeting with the executive board of the CGTP:
1. In the conference room are two air conditioners but the windows are broken, so they do not help much.
2. It is a coming and going of people. There is no beginning or end to the meeting. On the other side, a woman writes down the names of those present carefully in a book.
3. One is talking a lot on national politics, especially about the machinations of the presidential candidates and their political tactics. The conversation is more about political power than on the content of politics. Also be told, who belongs to which presidential candidate and how many people a candidate can mobilize.
4. One pays more attention to details than the broad lines of policy.
5. Formality and informality alternate as two sides of the same coin but there is still a system that leads to results whatever the time it may cost.

That there is so much talk about national politics and presidential candidates, can be regarded as a weakness of the trade union movement. Apparently, the trade unions in Panama are not taken seriously by the government and there is no institutional framework through which the unions can express their political desires. That makes it very difficult for the trade unions to participate in the power structure of the state except on an informal way for example through personal contacts with politicians. For trade union leaders this must sometimes be very frustrating.

As usual in Latin America, the talks are endlessly, but it seems no problem for the participants. Apparantly people perceive time differently in Latin America than in Europe, where everything is arranged in hours and time, even leisure time (holidays) is regulated by hour and time. Could that be because time has indeed become money in Europe, while in Panama and the rest of Latin America this is not (yet) so much the case? In any case, in Latin America average people have more time than money. In Europe, the reverse is the case: average people have more money, but they don't have time. You may wonder what makes a man more happy? More time than money or vice versa?

Saturday, March 8, 2014


As I have written before, the Canadian Christian Labour Association of Canada CLAC supported the WCL activities in Central and Eastern Europe. Thanks to, among other things, the efforts of some leaders of CNV, the CLAC had joined the WCL. Over the years, CLAC had become a thorn in the side of the dominant Canadian Labour Congress CLC. CLC could and cannot accept that a small, even Christian trade union confederation like CLAC dared to challenge the big CLC and threaten its monopoly on the labor market.

I recognized in the stubbornness of the CLAC, with which she went her own way, despite opposition from the big trade union confederation CLC, the stubbornness and consistency of my Protestant-Dutch compatriots. This is not surprising because many CLAC leaders descended from Dutch Protestant immigrants. Do not forget that in the 17th century Dutch Protestantism helped the Dutch Low Lands, in spite to be a very small country, to conquer a permanent place in the world.

But there is much more. I recognized in CLAC, as well as before in CNV, and also in the former Dutch Catholic NKV trade union confederation, and later in the Danish trade union confederation KRIFA, the profound belief that man is more than material welfare. Without wanting to use big words, I recognized in these unions a deep sense for human spirituality. Although it is difficult to make policy and actions based on such beliefs and convictions, especially with trade unions, these unions did not give up, without becoming churchy, bigoted or exaggerated piety. In addition, they also dare to go against the zeitgeist, fashions and trends of these times.

The deep consciousness that human beings are probably above all spiritual beings, I found also in the new trade unions in Central and Eastern Europe. A spiritual wealth Western unions seem to have lost. It seems that their power struggle against capital and employers, their bureaucracy and their own wealth have made them spiritual insensitive. I have always experienced my work with unions in Central and Eastern Europe, but also in the Third World countries, as a spiritual refreshing bath. They gave you the opportunity to value again the spiritual dimensions of ones existence. A wealth that you carry for your life even when there are also drawbacks. One must stay realistic. People can do good but also evil.

Another point that appealed to me was their spirit of rebellion and courage to resist superior powers. From the start I have been struck by this spiritual force of the Latin American trade unions as united in CLAT and thanks to the WCL, I learned to know all this also in New Europe, in Asia and in Africa. Over time, I saw it as a challenge to unite in WCL this spirituality together with the courageous rebellion in a self-conscious and realistic way. Such a WCL would be able to contribute on world level to the search for the balance between material prosperity and spiritual well being. 

During my stay I visited some work sites organized by CLAC. Ed gave me the opportunity to visit the famous Niagara Falls during a day it was so misty that we barely could see the falls. But anyway we had a nice day.

Executive Director Ed Grootenboer invited me in April 1994 as a keynote speaker for the 38th National Convention of CLAC in Toronto, with the theme "WCL meeting the challenge in Central and Eastern Europe". I loved the invitation because it allowed me to explain to a wide audience why we as WCL to be in Central and Eastern Europe . I hoped to make clear that we as WCL were not present in Central and Eastern Europa to get more members for the club, but to support the building of a democratic and humane society backed by our Christian and humanist values​​.

Here is not the place to repeat my speech but only some main parts. You can read the whole speech in 'The Guide', volume 3/ number 42, april / may 1994. The Guide is published by CLAC. I believe that much of what I said then still applies for Central and Eastern Europe and also for the Third World. I just want to cite some paragraphs which in my view still apply.

The responsibility of the West.
As Westeners, we now have the ability (after the fall of the Berlin Wall), I would say the responsibility, to react to what we now know. Why? Firstly, because the people who contributed to the fall of communism ask for our support. They are calling on our solidarity to help solve the huge problems facing them. Secondly, because their weapons against communism were the reliance and insistence on the operation of universal human rights. If we now denie this universality, we not only betray those who believe in it, but we also break trust with our own belief in human rights. We would completely lose our credibility. And this, in turn, would mean that we can forget, at least for the time being, about a new world order that would be more humane and more peaceful. So, thirdly, it is evidence of our enlightened self-interest if we help build a better society in Central and Eastern Europe, the main pillars of which are respect for human rights, democracy, social justice, and, of course, economic progress.

About the values of WCL

Besides the WCL's social orientation and action, there is our broad ideological orientation. Broad in that our actions and concepts are inspired expressly by values and standards of human relations which are derived from religious beliefs. Our initially Christian inspiration remains, but it has been broadened in order to accept and include people and trade unions with different religions and ideologies. This broadening helps us to acquire a more profound view of the trade union movement in different cultures, on every continent. Basically, the trade union movement has to be one of the instruments for contributing to the possibility of self-fulfilment for the individual worker as a human being. Since this self-fulfilment can never be an indidual process, the trade union movement must always be a solidarity organization.”

Meeting with VOST members in the Trollybus Company in Kiev. This picture has a story. The management of the Company did not want us to enter the enterprise. Only after we had threatened with international publicity we could  speak with the members of the VOST within the company. But first we had to listen to the representative of the post-communist trade union, the former communist state trade union. According to him, everything was fine. However VOST members thought very differently so they told us later. 
Two years later, in May / June 1996 Ed Grooteboer went with a large WCL delegation to Ukraine. I have previously written about that mission. As you can read below, the report from Ed about what he experienced in Ukraine is still relevant in the light of current evenst in the Ukraine.

On the last day of our mission to Ukraine, VOST had organized a press conference. From left to right: Achille Dutu (Cartel alfa, Rumania), Olga Nicolae ( WCL Liaison office Bucarest), Piet Nelissen (WCL Confederal Secretary), Oleksandr Dhzulyk (President VOST, Ukraine), Ed Grooteboer (Executive Director CLAC, Canada), Yuri Kurylo (Vice President VOST, Ukraine), Andrzey Adamczyk (Head Int. dept. Solidarnosc, Poland)

Still the same foxes running the coop.

"As part of a recent World Confederation of Labour (WCL) mission to the Ukraine to support the All-Ukranian Union of Wokers Solidarity (VOST), a sister organization, I saw first-hand how deeply the communist legacy runs in Ukraine's political, economic and social structures. Politicians, bureaucrats, and industry and trade union leaders are tenaciously hanging on to positions of power and control. They are reluctant to give up their privileges and strongly oppose the winds of change.

In this sense, the Ukraine is no different than neighbouring Belarus, Russia, and other countries once swallowed up in the USSR. But countries like Poland, Hungry, Czechslovakia (now the Czech and Slovak republic), and Romania are profiting from a conscious and popular struggle agianst communism. These revolutions resulted in well-nigh irrevesible reforms at practically all levels, and created a reservoir of resolve to work through the economic and social devastation caused by communism. Although communist sympathizers remain a force to be reckoned with, a country like Poland has made great strides in rebuilding its social and economic structures. Countries such as the Ukraine, however, have not experienced such a revolution. Independence arose almost by default out of the crumbled Soviet empire. Consequently, reforms are relatively superficial and the same foxes, now travelling under the name of social democrats, are still and by large running the chickencoop.” (The Guide, july/august 1996.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Participants in a Seminar organized by the Associacion Nacional de Periodistas de Peru (ANP) and WOW

Inside the country the winds are not good for journalists. It is election year. Those who want to reach public office or those who exercise it already and aim to stay in office, appeal to all kinds of tricks to silence critical voices. The easiest and most effective way seems to be polarizing the journalists. In case there are two opposing groups, the citizens will be so involved in this struggle that little attention is paid to the revelations of corruption that could lead to those who seek to get the votes.

The second strategy is to wipe those who could monitor campaigns and efforts by using direct or indirect censorship through public or administrative pressures. Proof of this are cases like the program 'Aportes' led by Pepe Elias Juarez, on channel 41, Chiclayo that was taken out of the air.

Requiring co-production of journalistic content as a condition for renewing the concession contracts is also a known script. Therefore, the program 'Enfoques' led by Glenda Pinedo Mello, was removed from the open television. The conditions imposed by TV Tarapoto were unacceptable.

On the right ANP Secretary General Zuliana Lainez, author of this article originally written in Spanish.

Moral death is another weapon. The campaigns across the country to discredit critical journalists are shameful. It is the old way of hitting the messenger to leave no trace of the message. Lenin Quevedo Bardález has to resist all kinds of insinuations because of the simple fact of being critical to a candidate who has been credited with several signs of illegal behavior in a previous municipal administration.

The other method are the comprehensive and repeated inspections from the Ministry of Transport and Communications. They become abusive and have a strange smell. Are they pretending to charge Wari Radio Station in Huamanga? Lilia Esther Valenzuela Zorrilla, Rosario Romani and the entire team - the most critical voice about the regional authority and other officials in the area – are not only harassed in court. Today the mayor of Guamanga himself tries to make implausible the complaints made by that station by trying to discredit the station and to insinuate a link to violent groups.

In Tumbes, people linked to the regional authority, have attacked for the third time journalist Ursula Pinedo, from the program 'Hoy por Hoy' of radio Sorceress. What about the police investigation?. No positive results on the first two attacks. It would be rare if there will be a result on the third.

In Satipo, Huaylas and Pomabamba there are also complaints. What should we do? Raise our voices. Accuse, accuse, accuse until we lose our voice. Require, require, require for investigation of aggression and harassment with the aim to identify the perpetrators. To encourage our colleagues within the country and many in Lima to fight their own battles within the newsrooms.

Encourage that courageous journalism not to lower the head at the possibility of prior censorship of their programs. Demonstrate that journalists can be united, that we do not fear the stick of those who seek to use us for their political games, that at this difficult time we are able to continue to comply with this work that gives reason for what we do: to monitor public affairs, reporting and encourage justice.

Only on this way the campaign will stop and we will get out alive. Morally alive realizing of having waged a fierce battle against those who want to come to power no matter what. Those who work in the provinces, you are not alone. We will use all tools we have. Our walls, our means, we will call our colleagues from this side of the border and from the other side. The goal is to add together all the voices we can find in defense of a free press. Free and responsible.

This blog was originally written in Spanish by Zuliana Lainez, Secretary general of ANP, Peru.