The International Centre for Trade Union Rights
COLOMBIA BULLETIN 23: 10 August 2004
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During the past two months ICTUR has received the following reports from Colombia, including serious violations of trade union rights:
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29 June: the family of the president of the public services workers' union Sintraemcali Luis Hernandez Monrroy received death threats in Cali. The trade union leader had protested against the plans to privatise the public services company Emcali and denounced the violations of labour rights that the company's workers were suffering. As a result of the death threats, the Sintraemcali leader had to move to a new place for the third time this year.
1 July: the oil workers' union Uso presented a report on the persecution members have suffered following their strike in May The report mentions death threats, harassment and 33 judicial trials for charges of terrorism.
3 July: Fanime Reyes Reyes, a member of the departmental committee of the Small and medium farmers union of Sucre Sindagricultores, was accused of rebellion and arrested in the municipality of Chalan, in the department of Sucre.
7 July: Nubia Gonzalez, daughter of the former president of SINDAGRICULTORES Telberto Gonzalez, was accused of rebellion and arrested by the police intelligence service in the department of Sucre.
12 July: Camilo Borja Pérez, a member of the oil workers' union USO and active participant in the recent strike in Ecopetrol, was murdered in Barrancabermeja.
14 July: 60 members of the public services workers union Sintraemcali, were sacked by the company Emcali in Cali. Among them was the union's president Luis Hernandez and other five members of the leadership. Sintraemcali had denounced the company's director for corruption and in May the workers had occupied the company's offices to protest against the plan to privatise it.
15 July: Carmen Elisa Nova Hernández, a nurse and officer of the Clinics and hospitals workers' union of Santander Sintraclinicas, was murdered in Bucaramanga. The murder happened despite the union had repeatedly denounced cases of harassment against its members and asked for the state intervention.
18 July: Adolfo Tique, leader of the Agricultural workers' union of Tolima, affiliated to Fensuagro, was captured by the army in Dolores, department of Tolima, and taken to an unknown place.
19 July: Pedro Galeano and Eduardo Camacho Rugeles, leaders of the Colombia university workers' union Sintraunicol, received a series of death threats. When they requested the intervention of the state they were denied protection, and the university ordered them to return to their jobs.
22 July: Benedicto Caballero, vice president of the national federation of Colombian agricultural cooperatives Fenacoa, was murdered in Mecitas, in the department of Cundinamarca.
22 and 26 July: Martha Cecilia Diaz Suarez, president of the local branch of local public sector workers' union Astdemp, received death threats on the phone in Bucaramanga, after members of the union participated in a protest day.
30 July: Alberto Muñoz, a worker of the company Burns Philp Colombia in Palmira who had just become a member of the National Union of Food Industry Workers Sinaltrainal, was dismissed for four days. Sinaltrainal has complained that this was an anti-union action.
5 August: Héctor Alirio Martínez, president of the peasants association (Aduc), Jorge Eduardo Prieto Chamusero, president of the regional health workers union (Anthoc-Arauca) and Leonel Goyeneche Goyeneche, member of the Arauca region of the Cut federation, were shot and killed by the Colombian army in Caño Seco, in the municipality of Saravena, province of Arauca.
The three trade union leaders were publicly renowned as spokesmen for organisations working for peace and justice in Arauca. The killings have been described by the leaders of the national trade union federation CUT as assassinations.
In the same operation, two more trade unionists were detained: Samuel Morales Flores, president of the Arauca region of the Cut federation, and Raquel Castro, a member of the Arauca teachers association, Asedar.
5 August: Henry González López and Gerardo de Jesús Vélez, members of the CGTD-affiliated union at the San Carlos firm in Tulia (Sintrasancarlos), were shot by unknown assailants. As a result of his wounds, Gerardo de Jesús Vélez, died two days afterwards.
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ICTUR has written to the Colombian authorities to protest against the continuing violations of trade union rights. ICTUR calls for an end to the aggression and insists that the authorities implement and ensure full respect for the international legal standards that protect freedom of association.
For more information contact ICTUR: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to take action in support of these cases you can send letters of protest to the Colombian authorities at the following addresses:
President of the Republic of Colombia
Dr. Alvaro Uribe Velez
Palacio de Narino, Carrera 8 No.7-26 Santafe de Bogota, COLOMBIA
Fax: + 57 1 3375890 / 3420592
E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Vicepresident of the Republic of Colombia
Francisco Santos - Consejeria Presidential de Derechos Humanos
Calle 7, No 6-54, Piso 3 Santafe de Bogota, COLOMBIA
Fax: 00 57 1 337 1351 E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Minister of the Interior and Justice
Fernando Londono Hoyos Ministerio del Interior y Justicia
Palacio Echeverry, Carrera 8a, No.8-09, piso 2o., Santafe de Bogota, Colombia
Fax:00 57 1 286 8025 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org