Remembering trade unionist Hebert (Ever) Marin

10th November 2016 - by Fr Denis Carter

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Aodh O’Halpin SSC and Sr Margaret Healy recently attended a commemoration service at Unite the Union in Holborn, London to remember Hebert (Ever) Marin. Ever was assassinated in Cali, Columbia in 1986.

HebertLeafletWhen Colombian Ever was a trade union leader in London 30 years ago we campaigned with him to encourage hotel, restaurant and bar staff to join a trade union for their support and protection.  A few mornings between 7am-8am every week we distributed leaflets at hotels and restaurants to the night staff coming off duty and to the morning staff beginning their work.
Ever went back to his home country Columbia in 1986 and established the Simon Bolivar Trade Union Movement in Cali. He was assassinated within months and on the day prior to his return to Britain.  A week later we took part in a demonstration outside the Colombian Embassy.  One of the group, a Colombian, wrote the word ‘Assesino’ on the pavement in big red letters.  Some of the group were arrested and brought to the Police Station for questioning.
During the recent London commemoration Mario Marin, brother of Ever, gave a brief history of the 50 year war in Colombia.  He told us how the state murdered over 200,000 people, mostly activists for justice and peace, including trade union members.  Mario said that at that time Colombia was the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists.
The evening was a wonderful reunion for us, reconnecting with the Latin American activists and others with whom we had campaigned during the eighties.
At that time, Columbans were involved with trying to heal the wounds of the world through chaplaincy work with migrant communities.  In Los Angeles we had a Korean and Filipino Chaplaincy.  In Tokyo, Hong Kong and Taiwan we had Filipino Chaplaincies because Marcos in the Philippines from the early ’70’s had an migration policy which became the number one dollar earner for the Philippine economy. He even implemented Executive Order 857 forcing Filipinos abroad to remit 50 -70% of their income back home through the Philippine National Bank. In London, Columbans were involved in three Centres – the Irish Chaplaincy scheme where Pat O’Herlihy, Bobby Gilmore and Gerry French were involved; and a Filipino Chaplaincy and a Filipino Centre which Donal O’ Hanlon and ourselves supported.