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Wednesday, 30 May 2001

Human Rights Abuses Against Trade Unionists Getting Worse

48 Assassinated This Year

By Liam Craig-Best and Rowan Shingler <>

BOGOTA -- On May 21st 2001, Carlos Eliecer Prado, a union activist for the Municipal Workers of Cali trade union, was assassinated. He was shot 11 times as he arrived for work at 7.00am. Carlos had received numerous death threats from the paramilitary death squad that operates in the city of Cali alongside the Colombian army's 3rd Brigade.

On May 17th Professor Miguel Angel Vargas, the president of the Cesar University Professors Association was assassinated by paramilitaries in the city of Valledupar, Cesar department. Vargas was shot by two paramilitary gunmen on a motorcycle as he left the 'Universidad Popular de Valledupar". Lisandro Vargas Zapata, brother of the victim and also a university professor, was also murdered by paramilitaries three months ago in the city of Barranquilla, Atlantico department (see below).

Colombian trade unionists continue to be murdered by paramilitary death squads at an alarming rate. So far this year the paramilitaries have assassinated 48 unionists including 15 leaders or senior officials. If this rate of assassinations continues, this year will be the worst year in the history of trade unionism in Colombia. Below is a list of those murdered so far this year - including their name, the union to which they were affiliated or working for, the date that they were assassinated, followed by the town or municipality and then the department in which the crime took place:

  1. Edgar Orlando Marulanda Rios, SINTRAOFAN, Jan 10th, Segovia, Antioquia
  2. Tello Aldona Barragan, SINDTRALOTE, Jan 17th, Santa Marta, Magdalena
  3. Miguel Antonio Medina, SINTRENAL, Jan 17th, Altagracia, Risaralda
  4. Arturo Alarcon, FECODE, Jan 18th, Piendamo, Cauca
  5. Jair Cubides, SINTRADEPARTAMEN, Jan 21st, Cali, Valle
  6. Jose Luis Guete, SINTRAINAGRO, Jan 24th, Cienaga, Magdalena
  7. Carlos Humberto Trujillo, ASONAL, Jan 26th, Buga, Valle
  8. Walter Dione Perea Diaz, FECODE, Jan 26th, Copacabana, Antioquia
  9. Jesus Antonio Ruano, ASEINPEC, Jan 27th, Palmira, Cesar
  10. Elsa Clarena Guerrero, FECODE, Jan 28th, Ocana, Norte de Santander
  11. Carolina Santiago Navarro, FECODE, Jan 28th, Ocana, Norte de Santander
  12. Cesar Daniel Rivera, ASPU, Feb 2nd, Barranquilla, Atlantico
  13. Alfonso Naar Hernandez, FECODE, Feb 8th, Arauca, Aauca
  14. Alfredo Florez, SINTRAPROACEITES, Feb 11th, Puerto Wilches, Santander
  15. Nilsen Martinez Pena, SINTRAPALMA, Feb 12th, Puerto Wilches, Santander
  16. Raul Gil Ariza, SINTRAPALMA, Feb 12th, Puerto Wilches, Santander
  17. Pablo Padilla, SINTRAPROACEITES, Feb 16th, San Alberto, Cesar
  18. Julio Cesar Diaz, SINTRAISS, Feb 16th, Barrancabermeja, Santander
  19. Candido Mendez, SINTRAMINERGETICA, Feb 20th, Chiriguana, Cesar
  20. Edgar Ramirez Gutierrez, SINTRAELECOL, Feb 22nd, Concepcion, Norte de Santander
  21. Lisandro Vargas Zapata, ASPU, Feb 23rd, Barranquilla, Atlantico
  22. Luis Fernando Velez, Castano, ADEM, Feb 25th, Medellin, Antioquia
  23. Jorge Saldarriaga Gomez, ADEM, Feb 25th, Medellin, Antiquia
  24. Victor Carrillo, SINTRAELECOL, March 1st, Malaga, Santander
  25. Dario Hoyos Franco, FITTIM, March 3rd, Fusagasuga, Cundinamarca
  26. Victor Hugo Orcasita, SINTRAMINERGETICA, March 12th, El Paso, Cesar
  27. Valmore Locarno, SINTRAMINERGETICA, March 12th, El Paso Cesar
  28. Rodion Pelaez Cortes, FECODE, March 13th, Cocorna, Antioquia
  29. Juan Rafael Atencia Miranda, USO, March 18th, Barrancabermeja, Santander
  30. Jaime Sanchez Diaz, SINTRAELECOL, March 20th, Sabana de Torres, Santander
  31. Andres Granados, Mendez, SINTRAELECOL, March 20th, Sabana de Torres, Santander
  32. Juan Rodrigo Suarez Mira, FECODE, March 21st, Medellin, Antioquia
  33. Luis Pedraza, USO, March 24th, Arauca, Arauca
  34. Ciro Arias, SINTRAINTABACO, March 24th, Capitanejo, Santander
  35. Robinson Badillo, SINTRAEMSDES, March 26th, Barrancabermeja, Santander
  36. Mario Ospina, FECODE, March 27th, San Miguel, Antioquia
  37. Ricardo Luis Orozco Serrano, ANTHOC, April 2nd, Barranquilla, Atlantico
  38. Aldo Mejia Martinez, SINTRACUEMPONAL, April 4th, Codazzi, Cesar
  39. Saulo Guzman Cruz, SINTRASALUD, April 11th, Aguachica, Cesar
  40. Francisco Cifuentes, FECODE, April 26th, Popayan, Cauca
  41. Frank Elias Perez Martinez, FECODE, April 27th, Santa Granada, Antioquia
  42. Dario de Jesus Silva, FECODE, May 2nd, Sabaneta, Antioquia
  43. Juan Carlos Castro Zapata, FECODE, May 9th, Copacabana, Antioquia
  44. Eugenio Sanchez Diaz, SINTRACUEMPONAL, May 10th, Codazzi, Cesar
  45. Julio Alberto Otero, ASPU, May 14th, Santa Marta, Magdalena
  46. Miguel Antonio Zapata, ASPU, May 17th, Valledupar, Cesar
  47. Carlos Eliecer Prado, SINTRAEMCALI, May 21st, Cali, Cauca
  48. Henry Jimenez Rodriguez, SINTRAEMCALI, May 25th, Cali, Cauca

The latest assassinations were denounced by the SINTRAEMCALI trade union in a statement that mentioned that, "We, Colombian trade unionists, have been targeted by dark forces moving inside the State itself. They seek to silence through assassination, exile or terror those who are against privatisation and those who defend human rights."

In a press release put out on the same day by the CUT (Colombia's main trade union federation), blame for the "selective assassinations" was firmly placed with the "paramilitary groups of the extreme right led by Mr. Carlos Castano".

The CUT press release went on to call for the International Labour Organisation to impose its harshest sanction on Colombia and appoint a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the murders and to pressure the Colombian government to "truly install a policy of dismantling paramilitary groups," The CUT said that, "The Administrative Council of the ILO does not need to listen to more speeches and unfulfilled promises, in response to the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the Organisation of American States Human Rights Commission and the reports of the ILO itself, none of which have been implemented."

Copyright 2001 News In Brief by Liam Craig-Best & Rowan Shingler


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