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ICFTU mourns death of Manuel Bustos, one of Chile's primary fighters against dictatorship

ICFTU Online
28 September 1999

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Brussels September 27 1999 (ICFTU OnLine): Manuel Bustos, a long-time champion and fighter against the Pinochet dictatorship and for democracy and workers rights in Chile died yesterday in hospital in Santiago, Chile. As a sign of how highly he is regarded in Chile the government has announced three official days of mourning, followed by a state funeral, which will be attended by President Frei.

Born in 1943, he began work as an mechanic at the Sumar Textiles enterprise, where he quickly showed his interest in trade union activities, and was elected as a union leader. Three years later, in 1969, he was elected as President of the union, a post he held until 1986.

Manuel Bustos was detained in September 1973, when he was briefly held in the notorious State Stadium, where most of the regime's opponents were held immediately following the military coup.

During the 1980s he founded and was President of the National Union Coordinating Committee and the National Workers Command. He was later elected as Vice President of the ICFTU. From 1988 to 1996 he was President of the CUT.

In 1988 he was sentenced to internal exile in Parral with Arturo Martinez, CUT's Vice President, for organising a strike. The two men were released at the end of October 1989, after 400 days of external exile when the ICFTU announced that Lech Walesa, the Solidarity leader would visit Chile, as their guest. Bustos, Martinez and Walesa were invited to attend a special session of the ICFTU Executive Board in London, to mark the ICFTU's 40th Anniversary. He was elected as a member of Parliament for the Christian Democrats in 1990.

Manuel Bustos will have noted with satisfaction the indictment of Augustos Pinochet by a Spanish court for crimes against humanity. The final extradition proceedings have just begun in London, where Pinochet is fighting attempts to send him to Spain where he will be tried on charges of torture and conspiracy to torture.

The ICFTU brought a civil action against Pinochet in November 1998 in a Brussels Court, because during the Pinochet dictatorship over 300 Chilean trade unionists were tortured, executed or "disappeared".

In a letter to CUT, Chile, its affiliate, ICFTU General Secretary Bill Jordan expressed his sadness to learn of the death of the inexhaustible fighter against dictatorship for democracy, and for the rights and well-being of Chilean workers. Bill Jordan also alluded to the painful moments, but also to the great satisfaction which the ICFTU had shared with Manuel Bustos during the common struggle against the Chilean dictatorship.

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)
Boulevard Emile Jacqmain 155, B - 1210 Brussels, Belgium.
For more information please contact:
Luc Demaret on: 00 322 224 0212 press@icftu.org

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