50 Colombian Trade Unionists Assassinated by April This Year Print
Bulletin archive - Bulletin Issue6 April?June 2002
Sunday, 07 September 2008 19:22
Compiled from CUT reports:

On 20th March 2002, LUIS OMAR CASTILLO and JUAN BAUTISTA CEVALLOS members of the Electricity Workers Union SINTRAELECOL - CUT were assassinated on the road that goes to the Rió Bobo Electricity Generation Plant, in Nariño Department. LUIS had received death threats in the town of San Pablo and for this reason had moved to work at another electricity plant in the region, where he and Juan Bautista were intercepted by the paramilitaries and executed.

On 22nd March 2002, the teacher ERNESTO ALFONSO GIRALDO MARTINEZ was assassinated on the road from the town of Rió Negro to the city of Medell’n in Antioquia Departament. He was a delegate of the Antioquia Teachers Association ADIDA. He was taken from his home on 21st March, shot and seriously wounded. He was being taken to San Vicente Hospital towards Medell’n. Just a few meters outside the city limits he was pulled out of the ambulance and finished off as he lay in the stretcher. According to a report in El Tiempo newspaper of 24th March, this murder was carried out by the FARC operating in this part of the country.

On 8th April 2002 DIOFANOL SIERRA VARGAS was assassinated. She was on the executive of the Barrancabermeja branch of the Food Industry Workers Union SINALTRAINAL, affiliated to the CUT, and a member of the Popular Women's Organisation - OFP [in which she was a volunteer dance instructor]. DIOFANAOL was a trade union and social leader. She was taken by force from her family home and executed by the paramilitary group that operates in the oil city of Barrancabermeja, in Santander Department.

On 9th April 2002 OSCAR ALFONSO JURADO was assassinated in the city of Cali, Valle de Cauca Departament. He was a leader of the Yumbo Branch of the Chemical Industry Workers Union SINTRAQUIM - CUT. OSCAR was waiting for transport to take him to his work place when he was attacked by an unknown man who shot him twice, taking his life.


On 23rd March 2002, JOSÉ ORLANDO CÉSPEDES GARCÕA a teacher and leader of the Arauca teachers Association ASEDAR was intercepted and disappeared on the road to Tame, Arauca Departament, at the place called Pueblo Nuevo [New Town]. At this moment his whereabouts are not known.

On 25th March 2002, comrades JOSÉ PÉREZ and HERNANDO SILVA were kidnapped by the Paramilitares. They were on their way to work when they were intercepted at a spot called Quebrada La Nata, which is in the town of Araguaney, Casanare Departament. They are members of the Oilworkers Union USO. No more is known.

On 5th April 2002, ARTURO VASQUEZ GALEANO was kidnapped as he was travelling from his work in the town of Abejorral towards the city of Medell’n in Antioquia Departamento. ARTURO is a social leader and an activist in the Workers and Employees Union of Antioquia, affiliated to the CUT. We call for URGENT action to save the life and personal well being of our comrade, so that he may be returned safe and sound to his family, to the community where he does his social work, and to his trade union.


On 12th April 2002 HERNAN DE JESÚS ORTIZ, a teacher and member of the National Committee of the United Workers Federation of Colombia (CUT), member of the Executive Committee of the Teachers Union in Colombia, also Vice-President of the Caldas United Teachers Association (FECODE), an active member of the CUT Human Rights National Team and office bearer of the Caldas Permanent Human Rights Committee (CPDH), and JOSÉ ROBEIRO PINEDA, ex-leader of the Electricity Industry Workers Union of Colombia (SINTRAELECOL) who was an outstanding union leader in Caldas and always involved in the trade union movement's activities - were assassinated.

This political, anti-union murder was carried out by the paramilitary groups which operate in that part of the country. The two leaders were dining together in a restaurant in Aranzazú Municipality, in Caldas Department. At approximately 8.00pm they were interrupted by a group of armed men who arrived in a van. They were totally undefended and fell dead as victims of the assassination attack.

HERNAN ORTIZ was an outstanding human rights defender and union leader in the CUT. We have repeatedly communicated to the Interior Minister reports of the danger to trade union leaders and the need for a Protection Programme for leaders who have had their lives threatened and been declared military targets by the AUC. The names of these and other human rights defenders and social leaders appear on the paramilitaries' list of those who are to be assassinated. But our request for protection have not been responded to.

The assassination of our comrades HERNAN and ROBEIRO is due to the lack of political guarantees to enable human rights defenders and trade union leaders to carry out our work.

With all due respect, we consider that Doctor Juan Somaviva, the governments, employers and workers with representation and responsibility at the International Labour Organisation - ILO - must now take careful note of this GENOCIDE that is being carried out against the United Workers Federation of Colombia - the CUT.

Since the Colombian Government with President Pastrana at its head does NOT implement the policies necessary for us to carry out our union activity, then a COMMISSION OF ENQUIRY must be agreed at the June 2002 meeting of the ILO Council of Administration. This would be a mechanism to call the attention of the Colombian State and Government to halt this genocide against our federation, and the systematic, massive and serious violation of human rights as with the treacherous assassinations of HERNAN ORTIZ and JOSÉ ROBEIRO PINEDA.

CUT General Secretary

Director Human Rights Departament

13th April 2002