At the CLAC WOW meeting in Santiago de Chile (see the BLOG “The Meaning of International Trade Unionism" ) last November I received from Oscar Semerel (trade union leader from Curacao) two photographs. He showed them with a certain amount of pride and nostalgia. He told me about an important international trade union meeting held in the time that the well known Chilean President Allende was still in power. Oscar was invited to the meeting of CLAC-WOW in Chile as president of the CLATJUPAM ( Latin American and Caribbean Federation of pensioned workers and senior citizens). Probably the visit to Chile had reminded him of the photo's he had kept so long. Meanwhile, last December during a congress of the CLATJUPAM in the Dominican Republic, Oscar became honorary president of CLATJUPAM.*
|Oscar Semerel presiding the Assembly meeting (first row, third from left)|
Both pictures have been made in April 1973 at the “Asamblea Sindical Mundial por la defensa de los derechos de los trabajadores frente a los sociedades multinacionales” ( "World Trade Union Assembly for the defense of the rights of workers against multinational corporations") held in Santiago de Chile. Together with Henry Molina (Deputy Secretary General of CLAT and trade union leader of the Dominican Republic) he represented at the Assembly the former Latin American Workers Confederation CLAT. The idea was that Henry Molina as Deputy Secretary General of CLAT and charged with foreign affairs would be elected as president of the Assembly, but this was blocked by the communist World Federation of Trade Unions WFTU because of “his role in his country”. As a result Oscar was elected president of the Assembly instead of Henry Molina.
|Oscar Semerel at the CLAC-WOW meeting in Santiago de Chili, 23 of November 2014|
As you can see on the first photo above, the Assembly was officially opened by Chilean President Allende (in the centre of the photo). This was 4 month before the violent coup of general Pinochet (11 September 1973). As President of the Assembly Oscar had the honor to stand on the left side of President Allende. The second on the right side of Allende is Henry Molina. The third on the left of Allende is Ernesto Vogel, President of the Chilean Industrial railway Federation and Vice-President of the Chilean Unitarian Trade Union Confederation CUTch. In the past he had won the presidential elections within the CUTch, but as leader of the christian democratic group within the CUTch, he was not allowed to exercise his presidential functions by a coalition of the left.
I remembered the history vaguely because at that time I was working with CLAT Nederland, the Dutch solidarity association with CLAT. We had an own bimonthly magazine called 'CLAT-Nieuws' (CLAT-News). In the bimonthly the following was written on this Assembly:
|The front page of the bimonthly magazine 'CLAT News', September-October 1973|
“The Chilean unitarian trade union confederation CUTch tried meanwhile to establish cooperation between the various national and international labor organizations on a global scale. The Chilean experience with multinationals had taught them that international solidarity is important. Between 10 and 15 April this year, she had therefore organized a conference for all trade unions in the world. At that congress in Santiago de Chile were 350 delegates gathered from around the world, who together represented 400 million workers. The ICFTU did not participate in the conference. She refuses to cooperate with the communist organizations that were present at the conference. The ICFTU apparently holds rigidly to its "anti-communist" line. She still cherishes the cold war ideology while the multinational companies have forgotten it ... " (CLAT News, September-October 1973, 4th year number 6, page 14)
* The VII Congress of the Latin American and Caribbean Federation of pensioned workers, seniors and older people (CLATJUPAM), held in Santo Domingo, closed yesterday by electing a new Executive Committee headed by President José Gómez Cerda, (Dominican Republic) and Vice-President Eduardo García Moure (Venezuela).
CLATJUPAM its activities and actions are inspired by the values and demands of Pensioned Workers, Senior Citizens and Older People who are seen as human beings with earned rights from employment and acts autonomous and independent from political parties, employers, governments and religions. The values and principles outlined in the Declaration and Principles are based on the principles of integral humanism.