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):
DEMOCRATIC SECURITY CONTINUES TO HIT THE WORKERS AND THE PEOPLE
TO DATE ON 26 FEBRUARY 2003 NINE TRADE UNIONISTS HAVE BEEN ASSASSINATED THIS
YEAR - THIS IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ALVARO URIBE, PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA
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.
RAIDS AND DETENTIONS
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
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.
DOMINGO TOVAR ARRIETA
Director of the Human Rights Department - CUT