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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-20-09 10:28 PM
Original message
Children sue Ala. company in Colombian mine deaths
Source: AP


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) The children of three slain Colombian union leaders filed a lawsuit Friday reviving claims that the men's U.S.-based employer was responsible for their killings outside a coal mine eight years ago.

A similar lawsuit filed by the men's union and widows ended with a verdict for mine operator Drummond Co. Inc. in 2007. But the plaintiffs, who want the company pay for their fathers' deaths, now have access to a key witness who couldn't testify in the first trial because he was in prison, their attorneys say.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Birmingham by eight children of Valmore Locarno, Victor Orcasita and Gustavo Soler, who all worked at Drummond's huge coal mine at La Loma. It seeks an unspecified amount of money to punish the company and compensate for the killings.

Locarno, a maintenance worker and president of the local union, and Orcasita, another union official, were taken off a company bus outside the mine in 2001 and shot to death. Soler, who succeeded Locarno as the union president, was killed seven months later in similar fashion.

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Solly Mack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-21-09 04:44 AM
Response to Original message
1. K&R
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-21-09 05:13 AM
Response to Original message
2. Here are some earlier articles DU'ers read on this rotten company which has headquarters in B'ham,
and operates in Colombia, using death squads to enforce its will on the union workers:

Edited on Tue Jul-24-07 03:19 PM by Judi Lynn
Source: Forbes/Associated Press

Drummond Union: Govt Muffles Key Witness
By FRANK BAJAK 07.24.07, 2:02 PM ET

BOGOTA, Colombia - The union activists suing U.S. coal company Drummond Co. Inc. in Alabama in the 2001 murders of three labor leaders say deliberate foot-dragging by Colombian authorities is preventing the jury from hearing their star witness.

"The strategy of these people is to delay the process so the trial ends without this evidence being presented," said Francisco Ramirez, a union official working with the plaintiffs. "They're giving us the runaround."

Concerned by the delay, 12 Democrats in the U.S. Congress wrote Colombia's vice president last week asking him to intercede.

There is also worry over the safety of the witness, Rafael Garcia, who is in a maximum-security Bogota prison.

The Democrat who chairs a House subcommittee on international human rights, Rep. William Delahunt, wrote President Alvaro Uribe last month asking he guarantee protection for Garcia.


Omaha Steve (1000+ posts)
Fri Jul-13-07 06:05 PM
Original message
Union Leader Claims Threats by Drummond

Union Leader Claims Threats by Drummond
By JAY REEVES 07.12.07, 3:30 PM ET ...


A mining union official testified Thursday that the head of Drummond coal in Colombia threatened him after the killings of three labor leaders whose families blame the company for the murders.

Juan Aguas Romero, the education secretary for two unions in the South American country, testified in the second day of a civil lawsuit accusing Drummond Ltd. of having paramilitary gunmen kill the three men.

Drummond, a privately owned company based in Alabama, calls the slayings tragic but denies any involvement with the murders or with militias in Colombia.

Aguas said Augusto Jimenez, president of Drummond's operations in Colombia, made threatening comments during meetings that followed the gunshot killings of two union leaders in 2001 and the slaying of a third union official months later.

Once, Aguas said, Jimenez told him that a "fish that swims with its mouth opens soon dies." A former Drummond employee previously testified that Jimenez made a similar comment to him in a private discussion about union negotiations.

FULL story at link.


Drummond case shows danger facing Colombian unions
16 Nov 2006 19:51:49 GMT
Source: Reuters

Colombia displacement
More By Hugh Bronstein

LA LOMA, Colombia, Nov 16 (Reuters) - A labor union leader at the U.S.-owned Drummond coal mine was pulled off a bus in northern Colombia and shot to death by masked right-wing gunmen one March evening in 2001, according to court papers accusing the company of ordering the killing.

The body of Valmore Locarno was displayed to the other passengers as a warning about what happens to labor activists in this war-twisted country where leftist guerrillas are pitted against right-wing paramilitaries. The union's No. 2, Victor Orcasita, was thrown into a pickup truck and killed later.

"The paramilitaries boarded the bus and asked for Locarno and Orcasita by name, saying that these two had a problem with Drummond," a court document says.

The U.S. federal lawsuit filed in Drummond's home state of Alabama has gained attention in Europe, where power companies DONG of Denmark and Essent of the Netherlands said last week they halted new coal purchases from the company. Both are minor clients.


Eugene (1000+ posts)
Thu Jul-26-07 04:44 PM
Original message
Drummond cleared in landmark Colombia rights case

Source: Reuters

Drummond cleared in landmark Colombia rights case
Thu Jul 26, 2007 3:53PM EDT

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., July 26 (Reuters) - U.S. coal company
Drummond was acquitted on Thursday of liability over the
killing of three union leaders in 2001 at a mine it operates in
Colombia in what legal experts viewed as a landmark case.

The jury in the civil trial rejected the plaintiffs' accusation
that privately held Drummond Co. Inc. gave support to right-
wing paramilitaries who carried out the killings and was thus
liable for the deaths.

The families' lawyers said Drummond hired the masked gunmen
who killed Drummond employees Valmore Locarno and Victor
Orcasita in March 2001 and Gustavo Soler seven months later.

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-21-09 05:31 AM
Response to Original message
3. The first trial in the Drummond Company's home town, regarding their hired murder of union workers
in Colombia, was clearly fixed to prevent the testimony of a vitally important witness.

Who knows if he'll make it to Birmingham alive to testify now? It's a pity that a jury could be so xenophobic or racist it would deny justice in a loathesome, filthy crime against humanity like this one. What was done to these three men should never happen to ANYONE, including greedy, vicious amoral corporate a-holes exploiting cheap labor and corrupting government officials in other countries.

This latest article doesn't refer to the fact that these men started getting death threats well before they were murdered. They went to Drummond officials and BEGGED them to allow them to sleep at the company on weeknights for a while until the death threats died down, and they were refused.

The death squad goons stopped the bus, got on the bus, hauled them out in front of co-workers and killed one of them in full view, and took another away and tortured him. As the article indicates, the other one was treated in the same manner.

Here is a photo of their images on a wall in Colombia:
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-21-09 08:45 AM
Response to Original message
4. Drummond is a major donor in Alabama elections
Edited on Sat Mar-21-09 08:46 AM by starroute
I ran across their name a while ago in the context of donations made in November 2001 to state PACs that were supporting now-Governor Bob Riley when he first started getting significant money to support his race against then-Governor Don Siegelman in 2002.

Drummond's name came up as an active donor at that time -- so I checked around a bit and found that both they and Alabama Power (to which they supply coal) are well known for using the state PACs to launder their donations to candidates for the Public Service Commission, which sets the power company's rates to customers.

I didn't pursue it any further than that -- I was really interested in Jack Abramoff and his circle, not in Drummond -- but I did come away with the impression that Drummond was a major player behind the scenes, and that this influence may have been behind the 2007 dismissal of the Columbia case.

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