News Agency New Colombia

Associated member of FELAP - Latin American Federation of Journalists


Police and death squads continue onslaught against unionists


Chilling new statistics from Colombia's main trade union confederation CUT:

9 trade unionists assassinated in the first two months of this year. Also, a

number of union organisers have been unrightfully detained. - President

Uribe is to blame, says the CUT.


04.03.2003 (By the Central Trade Union Federation of Colombia - CUT) ANNCOL

is pleased to provide our readers with an English translation of the latest

press release from the Central Trade Union Federation of Colombia (CUT):










The Central Trade union Federation of Colombia (CUT), through its human

rights department, once more denounces before the world the onslaught

against the trade union movement and especially aganist unions affiliated to

the CUT. We ask that any person in receipt of this communication distributes

it and at the same time sends messages of protest to the Colombian

government for its responsibility as a State for these acts.






On 20 February 2003, on the road from Alban to Bituima, JUAN ANTONIO

BOHORQUEZ MEDINA of the trade union executive for the municipality of

Bituima, affiliate of FECODE-CUT and who worked in the municipality of

Alban, Cundinamarca, was kidnapped. Three days later his body was found. He

had been horribly murdered in the jurisdiction of the municipality of Alban.



On 21 February 2003 at 7:30pm, FREDY PERILLA MONTOYA, a worker for the

EMCALI Telephone Company (EICE) and SINTRAEMCALI activist, was intercepted

by individuals travelling in a white van with polarised windows. They tried

to force the comrade to get into the vehicle. He resisted and struggled with

them and when they saw they were not going to succeed in taking him with

them, they shot him six times and fled.






On Wednesday 19 February 2003, in the night, the home of comrade RAFAEL

PALENCIA FERNANDEZ was raided. He is an active member of the workers union,

SINTRAMINTRABAJO which had been taking legal action on behalf of the freight

workers against the transnational Coca Cola.


At present the comrade is in detention in the cells of the SIJIN in

Cartagena, accused of supposedly belonging to the urban militias of the

insurgency and of possibly planning terrorist acts in the city to coincide

with the Businessmen's Congress with President Uribe on 20 and 21 February

2003. However, according to our comrade he is the victim of a vile montage

by the forces of the State.


On the same night of 19 February 2003, the home of teaching comrade,

affiliated to FECODE, SAMUEL REYES, was raided. He was a victim of the same

montage as comrade Palencia.



On 22 February 2003. members of the secret police, detained in suspicious

and inconsiderate circumstances, in the city of Manzinales, comrade ROBINSON

BELTRAN HERRERA, President of the Workers Union at the Regional Autonomous

Corporation of the Atlantic Coast, Otrora Corelca - SINTRAELECO CORELCA.



According to the secret police, they were notified of an order to capture

the comrade by the Catagena Public Prosecutor's Office, which they carried

out immediately.






On 17 February at around 11:30am, a letter posted to the Colombian

Association of Graphic Reporters arrived which contained threats against the

president of the trade union, GLADYA BARAJAS and her family.


On Thursday 20 February, at 1:10pm, when the trade union leader and civic

leader, ELBER ALBERTO GRANJA, former president of SINTRAMUNICIPIO YUMBO, and

currently president of the Communal Action Committee for the Municipality of

Vijes, Valle del Cauca, was on the footpath outside his house when he

observed an individual with a firearm who started to shoot at him.


At this moment a young man was coming down the road was witness to this

event and protected himself from the gunfire by approaching the home of the

comrade who had thrown himself to the ground and came out uninjured.



On 22 February at approximately 6am, comrade WILSON CASTO PADILLA, affiliate

of the trade union, SINALTRAINAL, was threatened by an anonymous letter made

up oF letters cut from a newspaper. It was found by his wife when she went

to open the door of the house and now he has to choose between his life and

his family or whether to carry on in the organisation.



The above acts of barbary reflect the real situation in Colombia where there

is no respect for human rights and where the main responsiblity for the

barbary lies with the State and with the government headed by Dr Alvaro

Uribe Velez, President of the Republic. All against a background of 100 per

cent impunity for more than 3,800 assassinations of our fellow trade

unionists in the 16 years the CUT has existed.



Because of this terrible situation for our trade union movement, we are

asking for solidarity from the international and national community, from

Human Rights NGOs, trade unions and other organisations to denounce these

crimes and demand from the Colombian government real guarantees for us to

continue our trade union activities.




Director of the Human Rights Department - CUT