INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS (ICFTU)
10 December- International Human Rights Day
151 trade unionists murdered in Colombia this year
Brussels, November 10, 2002 (ICFTU OnLine): Jorge Humberto Marín Henao, President of the Municipal Employees Association (ADEM), a Public Service International (PSI- a Global Union Federation) affiliate in Medellin, Colombia, was at the union office when an unknown man came in and asked to see him. On entering, the man said "Don Julio Cesar has asked me to tell you that you must leave the city and this is your last warning." With this, he pulled out a revolver and slammed it down on the Humberto's head. Later the same day, another man came to the office and said that Jorge had 3 days to leave the city.
Humberto has since fled the country, taking temporary asylum abroad with the help of PSI and other public sector trade unions. In Colombia, he is one of the fortunate. According to a list compiled by the ICFTU and sent to President Alvaro Uribe, by International Day of Human Rights on 10 December 2002, 151 trade unionists had been murdered in Colombia.
Since the list was sent, at least another three have been killed, the most recent slaying occurring on 23 November when Jairo Vera Arias was gunned down outside his house in Bucaramanga, Santander.
Colombia is by far the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists, and despite claims by President Uribe to the contrary, the situation is not improving. On December 10, to mark the International Day of Human Rights, the ICFTU is once again calling on him to put an end to the killings and to the ostensible impunity of the killers.
Also on 10th December, PSI is beginning a letter-writing campaign to the Colombian government, demanding greater protection for trade unionists in the country. The letter can be found at the following address:
The ICFTU represents 158 million workers in 231 affiliated organisations in 150 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org
For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224 0232 or +32 475 67 08 33.