Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April 2014, 10:56 GMT

2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Colombia

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2007
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Colombia, 9 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52ca39c.html [accessed 23 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 45,600,000
Capital: Bogotá
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138

There were dangerous signs of an increase in the systematic and selective violence against the unions, with 78 trade unionists murdered during the year, following a small decline in the last few years. Impunity remained the main obstacle to the exercise of trade union rights in Colombia this year too, given the involvement of paramilitary groups and national security officials in most of the assassinations of trade unionists in recent years. The education sector remains the most at risk in terms of violent acts, with a total number of 39 murders, i.e. 50 per cent of the total. The number of cases of harassment of trade unionists has also risen. One positive signal was the opening of an ILO Permanent Representation in Colombia, as part of the Tripartite Agreement on Freedom of Association and Democracy signed by the government, the union centres and the employers' association.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association is enshrined as a basic right in the Constitution. The Labour Code provides for the automatic recognition of any trade union that has at least 25 members and has complied with a simple registration process. In law, unions are free to decide their own rules and manage their own activities. Only a judicial authority, as opposed to a government body, may suspend trade unions or annul their legal identity.

Limited right to strike: The Colombian Constitution recognises the right to strike for all workers, except for members of the armed forces, the police and workers providing essential public services as defined by law. Similarly, the Constitution charges the legislative authorities with making provisions governing the right to strike. However, this task has not yet been fulfilled, and in practice, laws dating back to between 1956 and 1990, which ban strikes, remain applicable to a wide range of public services. These do not necessarily qualify as "essential" services, in contravention of the ILO definition that only covers those "the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population".

Furthermore, the law prohibits federations and confederations from calling strikes, and the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (responsible for monitoring and administrative control of industrial relations) can impose mandatory arbitration if a strike goes on for more than 60 days – in contravention of ILO Convention 87 and recommendations by the Committee of Experts.

Trade union officials who engage in strike action that has been declared unlawful can be dismissed. Those engaged in lawful strike action can also be dismissed, provided six months have passed since the end of the dispute.

Collective bargaining – discrimination in the public sector: Colombian legislation has introduced clauses that discriminate against the jobs and collective bargaining rights of public sector workers, by classifying them as "official workers" ("trabajadores oficiales") or "civil servants" ("empleados públicos"). The unions representing public sector workers are not allowed to put forward demands or sign collective agreements, since their right to collective bargaining is limited to submitting "respectful requests" that do not cover key aspects of industrial relations, such as wages, benefits and employment contracts.

Labour reform: A reform of labour regulations was imposed in 2004, without any form of consultation or social dialogue, which resulted in longer daily working hours, reduced overtime payments, reductions of severance pay, increased worker flexibility, restrictions on collective bargaining and the loss of previously acquired rights. For example, the new law excludes the possibility of apprenticeship contracts being covered by collective bargaining. According to the ILO conventions, collective bargaining should cover "all written agreements concerning working conditions and terms of employment".

"Law on Justice and Peace": On 22 June 2005, the Congress adopted the Law on Justice and Peace, which the government claimed was designed to promote reconciliation and the fight against impunity. In July 2006, the Constitutional Court of Colombia, the highest legal instance in the country, found that many aspects of the Law were in breach of the Constitution. At the time of this report it seems that the government is drafting some new regulations under the Law, however it is not clear whether those regulations will succeed in fully implementing the ruling of the Court.

It is also worth noting some recent government proposals that threaten to remove the existing protection of victims of human rights abuses and to weaken the already ineffectual judicial system. The government has, for example, proposed a significant reduction of the "tutela", a legal measure granting emergency protection of constitutional rights whilst a case is before a court. The government has proposed to restrict the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, which has hitherto been a bastion in protecting workers' rights. The government also abruptly broke off its dialogue with the Inter-Institutional Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Worker's Human Rights.

Tripartite Agreement signed at the ILO: As a result of the action over a number of years by the Colombian trade union centres, supported by the international trade union movement, the Tripartite Agreement on Freedom of Association and Democracy was signed on 1 June 2006 at the ILO headquarters in Geneva during the International Labour Conference, by the presidents of the three confederations, the president of the employers' organisation and the Deputy Minister of Social Affairs of Colombia. The main item in that agreement was the establishment in Colombia of an ILO Permanent Representation, whose main task would be to promote and protect the fundamental rights of workers, and in particular their rights to life, freedom of association, freedom of expression and free collective bargaining, whilst ensuring respect of the policies of the ILO. Following intensive national and international pressure, on 18 October 2006 the tripartite agreement that defines the mandate of the ILO Permanent Representation in Colombia was signed, and the government finally agreed to open the ILO Office on 23 November 2006.

Trade union rights in practice

Colombian trade unionists, whether leaders or grassroots members, are experiencing a fully fledged humanitarian crisis. They are the victims of selective, systematic and persistent violence. The perpetrators of these crimes enjoy total impunity.

Impunity: Impunity remains the chief incentive behind the attacks on trade unionists in Colombia. Little progress has been noted regarding the impunity surrounding these violent acts. Indeed, the vast majority of the violations, i.e. over 99 per cent of the cases, were unpunished and many murders have not been investigated.

As part of the Tripartite Agreement on Freedom of Association and Democracy, the Attorney-General set up a special unit to investigate and punish crimes involving attacks on the lives and freedom of trade union officials and workers, composed of five public prosecutors. The group's first task was to make a report on the investigations carried out by this government agency throughout the country in relation to such cases from 1994 to the present time. The initial findings were that 1,165 crimes had been committed against trade unionists. Of those, 95 per cent had benefited from total impunity, as national and international trade union organisations had been complaining. Of those 1,165 cases, which might actually be as many as 1,369, if massacres are included, just 56 are before the courts and only 10 have resulted in sentences. These facts forced the Attorney-General to raise the number of special public prosecutors from five to 13 and to promise to provide more reports on results to the Colombian trade union organisations within two years.

Attacked for their union activities: The Colombian NGO, Escuela Nacional Sindical (National Trade Union School), points out that "most of the violations of the human rights of trade unionists in Colombia are associated with industrial disputes, even though they take place in the context of war and are committed, in most cases, by one of the belligerent parties." The Escuela also reports that "most of the murders, threats, kidnappings and forced removals suffered by Colombian workers have taken place in periods and contexts characterised by increased activity and pressure for workers' demands" and that therefore, Colombian trade unionists are not "accidental or collateral victims of the armed conflict that has been raging in the country for decades".

In early 2006, Rafael Enrique García Torres, the former Head of the Information Service of the "DAS" (department for national security), revealed to the Attorney-General and to journalists on two major daily papers, that the DAS had passed on the names of 23 trade union leaders to paramilitary groups. Although those statements were immediately refuted by the President, it was shocking to learn that the majority of the leaders mentioned by García had been assassinated or forced into hiding after receiving death threats, and that no criminal investigation into those cases has so far produced any results. In his statements, the former official of the DAS affirmed that a major foreign company, based in the Costa Atlántica region, paid the paramilitaries to murder trade union leaders, whilst stressing that that practice was not a policy of multinationals but of middle managers. In any event, no measures were taken within the DAS to examine the validity of the accusations.

On 7 July 2006, the Colombian trade union organisations obtained a copy of an internal report by the Spanish multinational Unión FENOSA, the owner of two electricity companies on the Colombian coast, Electrocosta and Electricaribe. The document alleged that 65 per cent of the 450,000 members of the CUT are on the far left and that the Colombian trade union movement is influenced by guerrillas. The labelling of Colombian trade unionists and labour leaders as guerrillas or sympathisers of guerrillas, by paramilitary groups and members of the armed forces, has made the unions extremely vulnerable and contributed to the dire situation endured by the union movement that has led to the assassination of over 4,000 members of the CUT as well as members of the CTC and the CGT.

Inadequate government response: In response to that intolerable situation and faced with national and international pressure, the government has set up various programmes, including a Committee for Regulation and Evaluation of Risks (CRER) and the National Fund for Citizens' Safety and Fellowship. Also, as mentioned above, a unit was set up within the National Public Prosecutor's Office charged solely with investigating human rights violations involving trade unionists. Escorts and/or armoured vehicles and cell phones are also provided to some trade unionists who are regarded as being in a risky situation.

Those efforts are clearly inadequate however, and union organisations regularly complain that some of their leaders or activists who have received credible death threats or have already suffered physical attacks are being denied official protection measures, or else the latter are withdrawn after a certain time, leaving the person unprotected again and in danger. The reasons offered by the authorities are generally either that "the assessment of risks incurred was negative" or that funds are lacking.

The government maintains that the criminal law system, that has been partially operational across Colombia since January 2005, will help speed up court cases and help combat impunity more effectively. However, the system is only dealing with crimes that have taken place since 1 January 2005. The hundreds of murders of trade unionists committed before that date, including some cases dating back to the early 1990s, will not be affected by the new system, and will probably remain unpunished. In addition, the "Law on Justice and Peace" adopted in June 2005, is doing nothing whatsoever to tackle the problem of the impunity enjoyed by the murderers of trade union leaders and activists in Colombia (please see the Trade Union Rights in Law section above).

Violence against women trade unionists: In 2006 the violations against the lives of women trade unionists fell compared to the figure for 2005; though there were 11 murders of women trade unionists overall, amounting to 13.58 per cent of the total number of assassinations (78), it should be noted that nine of those people were members of education unions and that women made up 23.07 per cent of the total number of people killed in that sector.

Lack of a social partner: The trade unions do not, in practice, have a credible social partner on the government side. The Ministry of Health and Social Protection is responsible for labour matters, through its Vice Minister of Labour. However, according to trade union sources, the Vice Minister tends to hide behind the fact that he or she does not have full ministerial authority, and wherever possible, refers labour matters to the courts.

Factors undermining collective bargaining: Numerous factors have contributed to the reduced number of workers covered by collective agreements, though the chief ones are, of course, the low level of union membership and the violent attacks on the unions. In addition, collective agreements are only negotiated in individual companies and do not cover whole industries or sectors.

Additional factors are the increase in sub-contracting and the new powers given to Arbitration Courts, which are now entitled to review the provisions of collective agreements in such a way as to allow employers to cut back and/or abolish rights previously acquired by the workers.

Assassination of trade union negotiators: In many other cases, trade union leaders were murdered or received death threats while engaged in negotiations with employers to advance workers' interests.

Violations in 2006

General figures: According to information provided by the ENS (National Trade Union School) and other sources, 78 trade unionists were killed between 1 January and 31 December 2006. The sector worst affected was teaching, with 49 trade unionists murdered, followed by the agricultural sector, with nine trade unionists murdered.

Violations of collective bargaining rights: On 19 January, Fernando Ramírez González, a member of the executive committee of the mining and energy workers' federation, the Federación de los Trabajadores Mineros y Energéticos (FUNTRAENERGETICA), was unfairly dismissed. The dismissal took place without following the due procedure of requesting the lifting of his trade union privileges, as a member of the trade union demands committee.

On 25 May, the Colombian Association of Professional Footballers, ACOLFUTPRO, filed a complaint with the ILO Freedom of Association Committee concerning the Colombian football managers' refusal to negotiate with footballers and their disregard for the demands set out in the union's list of claims, thus impinging on the footballers' exercise of their trade union rights.

On 17 October, workers affiliated to the SINALTRAINAL trade union at the Nestlé factory in Colombia, denounced the management's harassment of workers and persecution of trade unionists. The plant managers initiated a campaign of harassment and trade union repression following the signing of a collective agreement (September 2006). They fired two of the trade union members and have placed all SINALTRAINAL workers on the same shift, discriminating against them and isolating them from the rest of the workers.

Threats and harassment: During the first few days of January, Porfirio Rivas Moreno, President of the Colombian postal workers' union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores Postales de Colombia (STPC), was the victim of constant death threats following the denouncement of the majority of the directors of the Colombian postal service, ADPOSTAL, who are being questioned over acts of corruption confirmed by the competent inspection authorities.

Eder Montes Álvarez, the Press Secretary of the STPC, who was also issued several death threats, pointed out that the written threats were signed by the demobilised Central Bloc of the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC).

In February, the agricultural workers affiliated to the Federación Nacional Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria, FENSUAGRO, reported threats against several of their trade union leaders and harassment at the union head office in Popayán, Cauca.

On 4 February, Plutarco Vargas Roldan, a leader of the Bogotá branch of the food industry workers' union (SINALTRAINAL), who works at a Coca Cola bottling plant, received a death threat against himself and his family.

On 29 April, the Drummond workers' union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Drummond, held a protest meeting. They were brutally attacked and beaten by officers of the National Police. The police filmed and photographed the workers, and threatened to kill trade unionists Alejandro Vergara, Rubén Morón, Luís Antonio Garzón and Raúl Sosa Avellaneda.

On 6 May, a death threat was issued to Rodolfo Vecino Acevedo, an ECOPETROL employee and a member of the National Executive of the oil workers' union, USO.

On 15 August, Martha Cecilia Díaz Suárez, President of the association of departmental workers, ASTDEMP, was approached by unknown assailants in a private vehicle who, after intimidating her and claiming that they were holding one of her daughters, forced her to enter the vehicle. They took her to an unknown location where she was tortured and interrogated about the trade union activities carried out by herself and her colleagues. She was released with bruises on her face and traces of two bullets that had skimmed her stomach.

During the first week of October, the Valle del Cauca branch of the national union confederation, CUT, learnt of a plan to arrest nine community and trade union leaders from the Department (the list mentions their names and the unions they belong to).

On 26 October, two hooded men entered the home of Medardo Cuesta, leader of the agricultural workers' union, (SINTRAINAGRO), in Apartadó, Department of Antioquia. They left leaflets containing death threats.

On 2 November, death threats were issued to national leaders of the court and judicial workers' association, ASONAL JUDICIAL: Miguel Enrique Ardila Sánchez (National Prosecutor) and Luz Marina Hache Contreras (vice president), who have been receiving constant death threats since June, after signing a trade union agreement.

On 22 November, a written death threat was found at the head office of the Cauca teachers' union, the Sindicato de Institutores del Cauca (ASOINCA), in Popayán. The letter was signed by the dissident paramilitary group named "Grupo Mano Negra", which threatened to kill union and community leaders from the city.

On 27 and 28 November, Fernando Ramírez, a member of the human rights and peace committee of the oil workers' union, USO, received several threatening telephone calls.

On 27 November, a document was sent to the emails of the oil workers' union, Unión Sindical Obrera (USO) and, the national confederation, CUT, containing death threats against various members of the unions. The mail was signed by the Northern Bloc of the AUC paramilitaries.

On 4 December, Marqueza Arrieta, the mother of Domingo Tovar Arrieta, a well-known trade union leader and director of the human rights department of CUT, was intercepted by unknown assailants, who told her, "We're going to kill you, you've been warned." The trade union leader's mother has been the target of threats and harassment for several years.

On 14 December, Eurípides Yance, a Coca Cola worker and a member of the National Executive of the food industry workers' union, SINALTRAINAL, received a message, delivered to his home in Barranquilla, entitled "AGUILAS NEGRAS", containing threats and a one-week deadline for several trade union, student and community leaders, including various SINALTRAINAL leaders and members working at the Coca Cola plant, to leave the city.

Assassinations: On 2 January, the body of Carlos Arciniegas Niño was found tied up, with visible signs torture and three gunshot wounds in Puerto Wilches, Department of Santander. He was a member of the agricultural workers' union, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria Agropecuaria (SINTRAINAGRO).

On 4 January, Armando Espinosa Misael, a member of the municipal workers' union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Municipio de Yumbo (SINTRAMUNICIPIO), was murdered in Yumbo, Department of Valle.

On 5 January, Rosabel Rincóna, a member of the agricultural workers' federation, the Federación Nacional Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria (FENSUAGRO), was murdered in Villavicencio, Department of Meta.

On 8 January, Manuel Antonio Tao, a member of the agricultural workers' federation, the Federación Nacional Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria (FENSUAGRO), was murdered in Inza, Department of Cauca

The same day (8 January), Hortensia Neyid Tunja Cuchumbe was also murdered in Inza, Department of Cauca. She was also a member of the agricultural workers' federation, the Federación Nacional Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria (FENSUAGRO).

On 21 January, Jorge Abril Parra, a member of the iron and steel workers' union, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria Metalmecánica, Metálica, Metalúrgica y Siderúrgica (SINTRAIME), was murdered in Bogotá.

On 23 January, María Isabel Fuentes Mejía, a member of the Valle teachers' union, the Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de la Educación del Valle (SUTEV), was murdered in Tulúa, Department of Valle.

On 3 February, Eneida Josefa Quintero Epieyo, a member of the Guajirade teachers' association, the Asociación de Educadores de la Guajirade (ASODEGUA), was murdered in Riohacha, Department of Guajira.

On 6 February, José Giraldo Parra Osorio, a member of the agricultural workers' federation, the Federación Nacional Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria (FENSUAGRO), was murdered in Puerto Rico, Department of Meta.

On 13 February, Arturo Santos Guzmán, a member of the Sucre teachers' association, the Asociación de Educadores de Sucre (ADES), was murdered in Sincelejo, Department of Sucre.

On 23 February, the body of teacher Guillermo Zemanate Bermeo, who had been missing since 14 February, was found in Popayán, Department of Cauca. He was a member of the Cauca teachers' association, the Asociación de Institutores del Cauca (ASOINCA), and worked at "El Túnel" educational institute in Cajibio, Cauca.

On 27 February, Giovanny Toloza García, a member of the meat workers' union, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Carne (SINTRACARNE), was murdered in Saravena, Department of Arauca.

On 2 March, Héctor Diaz Serrano was murdered on his way to work by a hired assassin in the Cincuentenario district of Barrancabermeja, Department of Santander.

On 2 March, Jhon William Vásquez Vargas, a member of the prison employees' union, the Asociación Sindical de Empleados del Instituto Nacional Penitenciario y Carcelario (ASEINPEC), was murdered in Salamina, Department of Caldas.

On 6 March, Samuel Manrique Pérez, a member of the agricultural workers' federation, Federación Nacional Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria (FENSUAGRO), was murdered in Puerto Asís, Department of Putumayo.

On 7 March, Luz Marina Farias Rodríguez, a member of the Arauca teachers' association, the Asociación de Educadores del Araucaen, was murdered in the Department of Arauca.

On 8 March, William Rafael Ortiz Cárdenas, a member of the Norte de Santander teachers' association, the Asociación Sindical de Institutores (ASINOR), was murdered in Puerto Santander, Norte de Santander department.

On 14 March, Derly Narváez, a member of the hospital workers' union, the Asociación Nacional de Trabajadores y Empleados de Hospitales, Clínicas, Consultorios y Entidades Dedicadas a la Protección de la Salud (ANTHOC), was murdered in Florencia, Department of Caquetá.

On 22 March, Norberto Castillo Romero, a member of the Bolívar teachers' union, the Sindicato Único de Educadores de Bolívaren (SUDEB), was murdered in Santa Catalina, Department of Bolívar.

On 25 March, Harvey Jovanny Morales Guevara, a member of the mining and energy workers' union, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria Minera y Energética (SINTRAMIENERGETICA), was murdered in Ciénaga, Department of Magdalena.

On 28 March, Max Villa García, a member of the Barranquilla teachers' union, the Asociación de Educadores Distritales de Barranquilla (ADEBA), was murdered in Barranquilla, Department of Atlántico.

On 30 March, Arselio Peñas Guatico, a member of the Chocó teachers' union, the Unión de Maestros del Chocó (UMACH), was murdered in the Department of Chocó.

On 1 April, Jhon Jairo, also a member of the Chocó teachers' union, the Unión de Maestros del Chocó (UMACH), was murdered in the Department of Chocó.

On the night of 2 April, Daniel Cortez Cortez, a member of the Colombian electricians union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Electricidad de Colombia (SINTRAELECOL), was murdered whilst carrying out his tasks as an employee of the electricity company, Electrificadora de Santander, in Las Montoyas, Puerto Parra. He was killed instantly by several gunshots.

On 8 April, Edgar de Jesús Rave Serna, a member of the Antioquia teachers' association, the Asociación de Institutores de Antioquia (ADIDA), was murdered in the Department of Antioquia.

On 11 April, Hermelinda Lozano Plata Hermelinda, a member of the César teachers' association, the Asociación de Educadores del César (ADUCESAR), was murdered in the Department of Valledupar.

On 11 April, Henry Pérez Díaz, a member of the construction workers' union, the Sindicato Unitario de Trabajadores de de la Construcción, SUTIMAC, was murdered in Coyaima, Department of Tolima.

On 23 April 2006, the decomposed body of Jaime Enrique Gómez Velásquez, former President of the telephone workers' union, the Sindicato de Teléfonos de Bogotá, was found. He had been missing since 21 March 2006.

On 23 April, Alvaro Garnica Diaz, a member of the Córdoba teachers' association, the Asociación de Maestros de Córdoba (ADEMACOR), was murdered in Montería, Department of Córdoba.

On 25 April, Marlos Cuadros Beltrán Marlon, a member of the Cartagena taxi drivers' union, the Sindicato de Conductores de Taxis de Cartagena (SINCONTAXCAR), was murdered in Cartagena, Department of Bolívar.

On 29 April, Nelson Martínez, a member of the construction workers' union, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Construcción (SINDICONS), was murdered in Arauquita, Department of Arauca.

On 26 May, Gilma Serrato, a member of the Cundinamarca teachers' association, the Asociación de Educadores de Cundinamarca (ADEC), was murdered in the Department of Cundinamarca.

On 2 June, Julio Enrique Vergara Adarve, a member of the Antioquia teachers' association, the Asociación de Institutores de (ADIDA), was murdered in Yarumal, Department of Antioquia.

On 6 June, the body of Luis Antonio Arismendi Pico was found in Zipacón, Department of Cundinamarca. He had been missing since 28 April, after leaving his workplace in Bogotá, along with Mrs Belquis Dayana Goyeneche, who is also missing. He was the president of the local food and drink workers' and vendors' union, the Sindicato "Manuela Beltrán" de Trabajadores y Expendedores de Alimentos y Bebidas de la Plaza de Mercado del Barrio San Francisco (SINDIMANUELABELTRAN).

On 7 June, Mario de Jesús Giraldo Aristizabal, a member of the Antioquia teachers' association, the Asociación de Institutores de Antioquia (ADIDA), was murdered in Medellín, Department of Antioquia.

On 14 June, William Fabio Carrillo Salinas, a member of the Antioquia betting workers' union, the Asociación de Colocadores de Apuestas Permanentes y Loteros de Antioquia (ASCAPLAN), was murdered in the Department of Antioquia.

On 3 July, Luís Hernando Chiran, a member of the Nariño teachers' union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Magisterio de Nariño (SIMANA), was murdered in Ricaurte, Department of Nariño.

The same day (3 July), Iván Ñañez, a member of the same union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Magisterio de Nariño (SIMANA), was murdered in San Pablo, Department of Nariño.

Also on 3 July, Humberto Navarro Ribon was murdered in Valledupar, Department of Cesár. He was a member of the César teachers' association, the Asociación de Educadores del Cesár (ADUCESAR).

On 6 July, teacher Francisco Ernesto García, a member of the Nariño teachers' association, the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Magisterio de Nariño (SIMANA), was found dead in Samaniego, Department of Nariño.

On 6 July, the body of Efrén Alonso Motta Acosta, was found in Samaniego, Department of Nariño. He had been missing since 27 June 2006. He was a member of the Nariño teachers' union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Magisterio de Nariño (SIMANA).

On 12 July, Helber Orozco Pinzon, a member of the Cundinamarca teachers' association, the Asociación de Educadores de Cundinamarca (ADEC), was murdered in Bogotá, Department of Cundinamarca.

On 23 July, Jorge Guillen Leal was murdered in Barrancabermeja, Department of Santander. He worked for Fertilizantes de Colombia S.A. and was a member of the leadership of the gas and chemical workers' union, the Sindicato Nacional de la Industria Química, Agroquímica, Gases, Ramas Afines y Derivados (SINTRAINQUIGAS).

On 23 July, Luís Hernando Chirán, a member of the Nariño teachers' union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Magisterio de Nariño (SIMANA), was found dead and showing signs of torture, in Guadual, Department of Nariño. He had been missing since 17 July 2006.

On 25 July, Maria Leticia Garcés Franky, a member of the Valle teachers' union, the Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de la Educación del Valle (SUTEV), was murdered in Cali, Department of Valle.

On 27 July, Javier Pedroza de la Hoz, a member of the Atlántico teachers' association, the Asociación de Educadores del Atlántico (ADEA), was murdered in Barranquilla.

On 5 August, Luz Marina García Martínez, a member of the Putumayo teachers' association, the Asociación de Educadores del Putumayo (ASEP), was murdered in Puerto Asís, Department of Putumayo.

On 11 August, Osvaldo Rodríguez Morales, a member of the Cartagena taxi drivers' union, the Sindicato de Conductores de Taxis de Cartagena (SINCONTAXCAR), was murdered in Cartagena, Department of Bolívar.

On 12 August, Adelaida Ortiz, a member of the Nariño teachers' association, the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Magisterio de Nariño (SIMANA), was murdered in Ricaurte, Department of Nariño.

On 17 August, Fabio Martínez Rincón, a member of the Norte de Santander teachers' association, the Asociación Sindical de Institutores Nortesantandereanos (ASINORT), was murdered in the Norte de Santander department.

The same day (17 August), Carlos Arturo Montes Bonilla, a member of the food industry workers' union, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de Alimentos (SINALTRAINAL), was murdered in Barrancabermeja, Department of Santander.

On 19 August, Berta Inés Agudelo Valencia, Women's and Family Affairs Secretary of the municipal branch of the Antioquia teachers' association, the Asociación de Institutores de Antioquia (ADIDA), was murdered in Nariño, Department of Antioquia.

On 22 August, Orlando Antonio Hernández, a member of the Palestina municipal workers' union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Municipio de Palestina (SINTRAPALESTINA), was murdered in Arauca, Department of Arauca.

On 2 September, Ismael Monsalve Suárez, a member of the municipal workers' union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Alcaldía Municipal (SINTROEPAR), was murdered in Arauquita, Department of Arauca.

On 4 September, Luís Eduardo Cosme Taquinas, a member of the electrical workers' union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Electricidad de Colombia (SINTRAELECOL), was murdered in Santander de Quilichao, Department of Cauca.

On 5 September, Germán Solano, a member of the Arauca teachers' association, the Asociación de Educadores del Arauca (ASEDAR), was murdered in the Department of Arauca.

On 10 September, Afranio Martínez González, a member of the Magdalena teachers' union, the Sindicato de Educadores del Magdalena (EDUMAG), was murdered in Ariguani, Department of Magdalena.

On 13 September, José Gregorio Izquierdo, was murdered in a residential area of the Department of Arauca. He was the president of the public services workers' union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de las Empresas de Servicios Públicos de Colombia (SINTRAEMSERPA), and a member of the Departmental Board of the Standing Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (Comité Permanente para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos). He had received several threats from paramilitary groups operating in the region. The members of the Standing Committee have been granted protection measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS.

On 19 September, Jorge Iván Agudelo, a member of the Antioquia Department workers' union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Departamento de Antioquia (SINTRADPTO), was murdered in Medellín, Department of Antioquia.

The same day, (19 September), Alejandro Uribe, a member of the agro-mining union, the Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar (FEDEAGROMISBOL), was murdered in the Department of Bolívar.

On 22 September, José Ignacio Amaya Ruiz, trade union affairs secretary of the Colombian bank employees association, the Asociación Colombiana de Empleados Bancarios (ACEB), was murdered in Bogotá, Department of Cundinamarca.

On 9 October, Jaime Andrés Sánchez Gutiérrez, a member of the San Carlos workers' union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Empresa Carlos Sarmiento Ingenio San Carlos (SINTRASANCARLOS), was murdered in front of several work colleagues in Tulúa, Department of Valle del Cauca.

On 9 October, John Justo Zarate Granados, a member of the social security workers' union, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores del Instituto del Seguro Social (SINTRAISS), was murdered in Santa Marta, Department of Magdalena.

On 10 October, Javier Valenzuela, a member of the local government workers' union, the Sindicato de Base del Municipio de San Carlos Nariño, was murdered in San Carlos, Department of Nariño.

On 11 October, Jesús Marino Mosquera, a member of the agricultural workers' union, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria Agropecuaria (SINTRAINAGRO), and the worker-management committee in Urabá – Antioquia, was murdered in Carepa, Department of Antioquia.

On 16 October, José Mario Guerrero Garzón and Héctor Jairo Yate, both members of the agricultural workers' federation, the Federación Nacional Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria (FENSUAGRO), were murdered in the rural area of Ibagué, Department of Tolima. The military forces based in the area stated that the two campesino leaders died in a combat with the military forces, a version that has been denied by local campesinos and his trade union organisation.

On 18 October, Douglas Mejia, a member of the court staff and judicial workers' association, the Asociación Nacional de Funcionarios y Empleados de la Rama Jurisdiccional, was murdered in Riochacha, Department of la Guajira .

On 26 October, Jairo de Jesús Escobar Morales, a member of the Magdalena teachers' union, the Sindicato de Educadores del Magdalena (EDUMAG), was murdered in Santa Marta, Department of Magdalena.

On 31 October, Efraín Gordon Mardoqueo, a member of the court staff and judicial workers' association, the Asociación Nacional de Funcionarios y Empleados de la Rama Jurisdiccional (ASONAL JUDICIAL), was murdered in Bogotá, Department of Cundinamarca.

On 31 October, Hugo Hernán Perafán Gómez, also a member of the court staff and judicial workers' association, the Asociación Nacional de Funcionarios y Empleados de la Rama Jurisdiccional (ASONAL JUDICIAL), was murdered in Villavicencio, Department of Meta.

On 3 November, Jorge Wilson Ospina Espinosa, was murdered at a cultural centre, the Casa de la Cultura, in the Department of Antioquia. He had been a member of the Antioquia municipal workers' union, the Sindicato de los Trabajadores Oficiales de los Municipios de Antioquia (SINTRAOFÁN), for over 11 years.

The same day, Jesús Elías Perea Quejada, a member of the Antioquia teachers' association (ADIDA), was murdered in Vigía del Fuerte, Department of Antioquia.

On 16 November, Esau Gutiérrez Gálvez, a member of the Magdalena teachers' union, the Sindicato de Educadores del Magdalena (EDUMAG), was murdered in the Department of Magdalena.

The same day, (16 November), Ramiro Romero Coba, also a member of the Magdalena teachers' union, the Sindicato de Educadores del Magdalena (EDUMAG), was murdered in Santa Marta, Department of Magdalena.

On 18 November, Jorge Víctor Padilla Babilonia, a member of the Córdoba teachers' association, the Asociación de Maestros de Córdoba (ADEMACOR), was murdered in the Department of Córdoba.

On 18 November, Rodrigo de Jesús Rendon Galvis, a member of Antioquia teachers' association, the Asociación de Institutores de Antioquia (ADIDA), was murdered in Cocorná, Department of Antioquia.

On 24 November, Carlos Hernández Llanos, a member of the hospital workers' union, the Asociación Nacional de Trabajadores y Empleados de Hospitales, Clínicas, Consultorios y Entidades Dedicadas a la Protección de la Salud (ANTHOC), was murdered in Sabanalarga, Department of Atlántico.

On 7 December, Víctor Alberto Espinosa Navia, a member of the Cauca teachers' association, the Asociación de Institutores del Cauca, was murdered in Popayán, Department of Cauca.

Attempted murders: On 13 June, hired killers travelling by motorbike attempted to kill Álvaro Mercado, a leader of the mining and energy union, SINTRAMIENERGETICA, as he was entering his home in Valledupar.

On 25 November, an attempt was made on the life of Martha Cecilia Marrugo Ahumada, wife of Rodolfo Vecino, a leader of the oil workers' union, the Unión Sindical Obrera (USO). The attack took place while she was travelling from Cartagena to Barranquilla in the armoured car provided for the trade unionist's security by the state-owned oil company, ECOPETROL. The vehicle was hit by several bullets fired from two motorbikes.

Arrests: On 3 May, Ender Rolando Contreras García, treasurer of SINTRAELECOL, Edgar Botero Cárdenas, press secretary, and Javier Ricardo Guedez, a member of the same union, were arrested in the Department of Arauca.

On 11 May, Miguel Ángel Bobadilla, a member of the National Executive of the agricultural workers' federation, FENSUAGRO, had his home searched by officers of the Bogotá police force. The trade unionist and his wife were arrested during the search.

On 12 August, members of the armed forces arrested trade unionists from Fortul: Esaud Montero Triana – a member of the hospital workers' union, ANTHOC; Abdon Goyeneche Goyeneche, President of the Arauca teachers' association, and William Saenz, also a leader of the Arauca teachers' association.

On 27 and 28 October, 19 people were arbitrarily arrested by the police in Saravena, Department of Arauca, including trade unionists Doris García and William Efraín Higuera, employees of the San Ricardo Pampuri hospital and members of the hospital workers' union, ANTHOC, Orlando Páez Duran, a member of the construction workers' union, SINDICONS, and Vicente Vera, a member of the drivers' union.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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