Three More Union Activists Murdered in Colombia
Labor Rights Now condemned the latest murders of labor leaders in Colombia and demanded that the Uribe government
there move more vigorously to investigate and prosecute those responsible for killing unionists there.
"What possible reason could there be for the U.S. Congress to approve the pending free trade deal with Colombia when worker activists
continue to be gunned down with impunity?" Labor Rights Now President Don Stillman asked.
More than 2,500 unionists have been killed in Colombia in the last 20 years, including more than 30 in 2007.
"Despite all its rhetoric deploring violence against labor activists, the Uribe government has done a very poor job of combating it,"
Jairo Giraldo of the national fruit-workers union and Leonidas Silva of a teachers' union were murdered in separate incidents in
Another teacher, Mercedes Consuelo Restrepo Campo, was shot dead outside the San Juan Bosco school in the town of Cartago. Two armed
men on a motorcycle fired at her on November 7, according to the Central Unitria de Trabajadores de Colombia (CUT). There were 11 women trade unionists
assassinated in Colombia in 2006.
Silva was murdered in his home in the Barrio Prados del Norte neighborhood in the town of Villacaro after returning from a trade union
event. He belonged to ASINORT, a teachers' union affiliated to Education International.
Killings of Unionists in Colombia
Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionists. Since 1986, over 2,500 unionists
have been assassinated and the numbers continue to climb. Most are killed by paramilitary groups associated with right-wing business interests,
while some are victims of guerrilla violence.
So far, there has not been a single case in which those responsible for these murders have been tried or convicted.
Those murdered, have been activists fighting for decent wages, the right to organize, and job security. While autoworkers, teachers,
public employees and others face daily threats and violence, multinational corporations continue to invest in Colombia.
"Colombian trade unions have been the leading advocates for peace, human rights, and economic justice in a nation afflicted by
internal violence and external economic pressure. And they have paid a heavy price for their advocacy. The AFL-CIO is committed to defending and
supporting our Colombian sisters and brothers whose lives are repeatedly threatened because of their attempts to win basic fundamental human
rights," said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on the crisis facing workers in Colombia.
• Resources on Colombia
• Email President Uribe of Colombia
• Or send a letter to President Uribe at:
Presidente de la
Republica de Colombia
Dr. Alvaro Uribe
Palacio de Marino
Carrera 8 No. 7-26
Santafe de Bogota
In your letters please state in your own words that:
I am writing to protest the ongoing slaughter of Colombian trade unionists. Their only crime is fighting for internationally recognized labor
rights and worker protections.
I am outraged that during the year 2006, 78 trade unionists were assassinated, and many more have been kidnapped or abducted. The violence
against labor activists in Colombia is on the rise at an alarming rate, and MUST STOP NOW!
I urge your government to work harder to protect those who are trying to bring peace to Colombia and prosecute those who commit murder with
If Colombia is to participate as a member of the international community, it must support trade union rights and democratic freedom there!.