Colombia: Trade Unionists Murdered As Peace Process at Risk

An explosion of violence against trade unionists in Colombia, including the murders of six union representatives since mid-May, is putting the peace and reconstruction process in the country at severe risk.

Four trade unionists from the education sector – Washington Cedeno Otero, Johanna Alarcon, Juan Artunduaga and Mauicio Velez, along with two from the agriculture sector, Mario Calle Correa and Alberto Acosta Gonzalez, who was murdered while watching his young son play in a football match in Cerrito – have been killed in the past nine weeks.
Víctor Baéz, General Secretary of the ITUC Regional Organisation for the Americas, TUCA, has called on Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to ensure full investigation of these crimes. “We call on the government to immediately investigate these crimes against trade unionists, the identification of those who are materially and intellectually responsible, the adoption of all necessary measures to protect the security, lives and liberty of trade unionists, as well as individual and collective reparations to the Colombian trade unions for the damage done during the armed conflict,” he said.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “The promise of the peace process in Colombia is under severe threat. Mining companies are moving into indigenous areas and paramilitaries are re-grouping to move into areas which the FARC left under the terms of the peace agreement. The situation is deeply alarming, and the government needs to move quickly to implement the Havana agreements and not allow violence and plunder of natural resources to turn the country back into chaos.”
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