Jesús Antonio González is Director of the Human Rights Division of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT), the nation's largest labor federation. After extending greetings from organized labor in Colombia, he recalled the 3,000 labor leaders from his organization who have been killed -- with a 99.9% impunity rate -- in the past 13 years, in the open, undeclared war in Colombia. This is in addition to the large number of union leaders who have been displaced or disappeared. The refugee problem is not just a rural issue; it affects urban workers as well. Jesús Antonio González pointed to the murder of the Vice President of the CUT, Jorge Ortega García. He considers the state responsible for this killing, which was ordered at the highest level of the government for the purpose of silencing the union. Jesús Antonio González admitted that he himself had been subject to two attempts on his life, resulting in the wounding of his son and the murder of his bodyguard. Intimidation and repression against the CUT are being carried out simply because the union is fighting for workers' rights. For that reason they are viewed as a military target. This is a military tactic on the part of the army. But the position of the union is to seek a negotiated political solution to the conflict. They seek social justice, but not through military means. They simply ask that their lives and civil rights be respected.
The Colombia Human Rights Network is sponsoring a tour by labor leaders from Colombia to the United States approximately March 14 to April 2, 2000. More union activists are killed in Colombia every year than in any other country. As noted in the accompanying article, since 1986 some 3,000 activists of Colombias largest union federation, the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT), have been killed in Colombia. Seven CUT leaders have been assassinated in the last 12 months. For more details, contact the U.S./Colombia Coordinating Office at 202-232-8090 (phone), 202-232-8092 (fax), or email@example.com by email.
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