( Translated by Anne Boylon, a CSN volunteer translator )
ENS – ESCUELA NACIONAL SINDICAL
The violence against unionists in Colombia continues unabated
38 unionists have been assassinated so far this year
—-The most recent killing occurred last Saturday in Buga—
———In Santander the threats are ever increasing———-
Labor Information Agency ENS August 26, 2008
According to information made public by the Escuela Nacional Sindical (National Unionist School), this recent assassination in Buga (Valle department) of Jose Omar Galeano Martinez, a lottery ticket seller and National President of the Colombian Federation of Lottery Sellers (FECOLOC), brings to 38 (34 men and 4 women) the number of unionists that have been killed so far this year in Colombia.
This figure is an indication of the frightening increase in the violence against unionists in Colombia. The number killed in the first eight months of 2008 is almost the same as the number killed in the whole of 2007 when there were 39 registered cases. There is one difference, however: the number of union leaders killed in 2008 is greater – 15 compared with 10 in 2007.
Jose Omar Galeano Martinez was struck down by the bullets of hired assassins at 10:00 at night as he was riding his motorcycle through the streets of Buga. According to information put out by CUT (Colombian Trade Union Federation), with which confederation Jose’s union (FECOLOC) is affiliated, Jose Galeano was leading the struggle of the country’s lottery ticket sellers who had united to oppose the privatization of the national lotteries. CUT is convinced he was killed because of these activities.
He is the third unionist to be killed this month. On August 13th Manuel Erminson, 32 years old and the father of three children, was shot and killed, his body hit with seven bullets. He was vice-president of the Asociacion Campesina para la Defensa del Putumayo (The Rural Association for the Defense of Putumayo) and a member of the Fensuagro National Council.
The other victim to fall in August was Luis Mayusa Prada, 46 years old. He was shot by hired assassins on the 8th at 8:00 in the morning as he was on his way home after accompanying one of his four children to a medical appointment. The identities of those who ordered this killing are still unknown. Mayusa had been displaced to Saravena from the department of Meta where, until shortly before his death, he was a member of the local CUT council in Meta (Colombian Trade Union Federation).
Cases that reverberate nationally
Among these 38 slain unionists are national union leaders: Guillermo Rivera Fuquene was the President of Sinservpub; his body turned up on July 15th in Ibague, three months after his disappearance in the Tunal sector of Bogotá. Leonidas Gomez Roso worked for City Bank and was the leader of the National Union of Bank Employees (UNEB) and a committed activist; he was assassinated on March 7th in Bogota, one day after the National March against Para militarism and all forms of violence in which he had participated.
Luz Maria Diaz Lopez, who was a member of the Putumayo Association of Educators, was killed in an attack on April 1st in Valle del Guamez, Putumayo. She was pregnant at the time of her death. Emerson Ivan Herrera, also a unionist, was killed in the same attack.
These 38 assassinations are part of a total of 200 violations which have been committed so far this year against the lives, liberty and physical and mental well-being of unionized workers. These violations include threats, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, attacks and other forms of victimization.
The Colombian Trade Union Federation (CUT) has been the most affected by these crimes: Twenty-nine of those killed belonged to unions affiliated with CUT. Five belonged to unions affiliated with the CGT (Confederacion General del Trabajo). The remaining four belonged to unaffiliated organizations.
Of the individual unions, The Federacion Sindical Nacional Unitaria Agropecuaria – Fensuagro (Agricultural Trade Union Federation), a CUT affiliate, has born the brunt of the murders, having suffered five registered homicides. The Sindicato Unitario de Trabajadores de la Educacion del Valle, SUTEV ( TheValle Union of United Education Workers) has also been hard hit, having had four of their members assassinated. The Asociacion de Educadores del Norte de Santander (The Association of Educators of the Norte de Santander) and the workers union from IMPEC together have registered three murders of their members.
According to available information, only two people have been detained for all of these crimes. Thus, so far, the perpetrators of these crimes are enjoying complete impunity.
Worrying situation in Santander
Another worrying circumstance is the growing number of unionists who are receiving death threats, particularly in the Santander department. While nation-wide there have been 125 known threats, in Santander there have been 57 reported cases of unionists threatened, almost half of that for the entire country. The other departments most affected by these threats are Antioquia where there have been 22 reports of threats, the Valle de Cauca with 9 reported cases and the Norte de Santander with 7.
List of Unionists Assassinated in 2008
The complete list of assassinated unionists in Colombia from January 1st, 2008, up to the present is the following:
ZULUAGA MARIO 02-ENE-08 MEDELLIN ASMEDAS
PÉREZ MONTES ISRAEL ANDRÉS 11-ENE-08 VALLEDUPAR SINTRADRUMMOND
PÉREZ ZAPATA RAMIRO DE JESÚS 12-ENE-08 SAN JERONIMO ADIDA
GONZÁLES ISRAEL 24-ENE-08 SAN ANTONIO FENSUAGRO
SUÁREZ LEAL JOSÉ YEBRAIL 28-ENE-08 BELLO SIGGINPEC
DUARTE ACERO JOSE MARTIN 02-Feb-08 LA MACARENA SINTRAMBIENTE
MESA PASACHOA MARIA DEL CARMEN 08-Feb-08 TAME ASEDAR
TRUJILLO MARIA TERESA 09-Feb-08 SANTANDER DE QUILICHAO ASOINCA
BENAVIDEZ SAMBONI ARLEY 09-Feb-08 BALBOA ANTHOC
GIRALDO MAMIÁN JOSÉ 09-Feb-08 LA VEGA ASOINCA
CARVAJAL RAMÍREZ CARMEN CECILIA 04-Mar-08 OCANA ASINORT
GOMEZ ALZATE GILDARDO ANTONIO 07-Mar-08 MEDELLIN ADIDA
GÓMEZ ROZO LEONIDAS 08-Mar-08 BOGOTA UNEB
MUÑOZ BENAVIDEZ VÍCTOR MANUEL 12-Mar-08 AGUSTIN CODAZZI ADUCESAR
BURBANO CARLOS 12-Mar-08 SAN VICENTE DEL CAGUÁN ANTHOC
JIMÉNEZ MANUEL ANTONIO 15-Mar-08 PUERTO ASIS FENSUAGRO
QUIROZ JOSE FERNANDO 16-Mar-08 PUERTO ASIS FENSUAGRO
ASTROS AMAYA JOSÉ GREGORIO 18-Mar-08 CARTAGO ASEINPEC
GONZÁLEZ MONTES ADOLFO 22-Mar-08 RIOHACHA SINTRACARBON
TROCHEZ PEÑA JULIO CÉSAR 22-Mar-08 SEVILLA SUTEV
HERRERA RUALES EMERSON IVÁN 01-Abr-08 VALLE DEL GUAMUEZ ASEP
DÍAZ LÓPEZ LUZ MARIELA 01-Abr-08 VALLE DEL GUAMUEZ ASEP
LEAL MEDINA RAFAEL ANTONIO 04-Abr-08 ARMERO AICA
ARIZA OMAR 07-Abr-08 SEVILLA SUTEV
GUTIERREZ RUIZ LUIS ENRIQUE 15-Abr-08 TAUSA SINDESENA
CABALLERO ARIZA JESÚS HEBERTO 18-Abr-08 BARRANQUILLA SINDESENA
RIVERA FUNEQUE GUILLERMO 28-Abr-08 IBAGUE SINSERVPUB BTA
CHIQUILLO PASCUALES TOMÁS ALBERTO 10-May-08 ALGARROBO SINTRAPROACEITES SUR DEL CESAR
GELVES LUIS ORLANDO 11-May-08 TAME FENSUAGRO
VERGARA SÁNCHEZ MARCELO 05-Jun-08 BUGA SUTEV
PELÁEZ CASTAÑO FAVIER DARIO 13-Jun-08 CAICEDONIA ASEINPEC
RECALDE ORDÓÑEZ WALTER ANIBAL 19-Jun-08 BUGA ASEINPEC
MUÑOZ GUARÍN JOSE HUMBERTO 22-Jun-08 RESTREPO SUTEV
MENDOZA CARREÑO HALY MARTÍN 09-Jul-08 CUCUTA ASINORT
PALOMEQUE VALENCIA JESÚS 05-Ago-08 CUCUTA ASINORT
MAYUSA PRADA LUIS 08-Ago-08 SARAVENA CUT
GAMBOA MELÉNDEZ MANUEL EMIRSON 13-Ago-08 PUERTO ASIS FENSUAGRO
GALEANO MARTÍNEZ JOSÉ OMAR 23-Ago-08 BUGA FECOLOT
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Colombia Support Network
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phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621