The Human Rights Department of the CUT (Colombian Workers United Federation) starts the year by denouncing the continued barbarism against human rights defenders, and social and trade union leaders. These are people who have the hope of a better future based on respect for life and freedom, but are marked out by acts of violence that attack human dignity. The following cases show that the genocide against trade unionists and against our federation is getting even worse.
On 8th January 2002, CARLOS ALBERTO BASTIDAS CORAL was assassinated in the outskirts of Aldana, in Nariño Departament. He was a member of the Nariño Teachers Union SIMANA -CUT.
On 11th January 2002, LUIS ALFONSO JARAMILLO PALACIOS, was assassinated in the city of Medellín, Antioquia Departament. He was a worker in the water section of the Medellín Public Corporation and, due to his constant interest in defending the workers, a delegate to the Medellín branch of the Public Service Workers and Employees Union SINTRAEMSDES – CUT.
On 12th January 2002, ENOC SAMBONI was assassinated. He was a leader of the CUT – CAUCA. This murder occurred in a place called La Chorrera in Cauca Departament. The paramilitaries took him and shot him dead. This is despite the fact that he was supposed to be covered by the Interior Ministry’s Protection Programme for trade union leaders, including preventative measures, set up through the Inter-American Human Rights Commission of the Organisation of American States – OAS.
On 5th January 2002, LEONARDO AVENDAÑO was disappeared on the road between Puerto Berrio and Yondo in Antioquia el Departament. The comrade is a trade union activist in the Yondo Branch of the Public Service Workers and Employees Union SINTRAEMSDES – CUT.
On 12th January 2002, a teacher CARLOS ARTURO ALARCÓN VERA was kidnapped as he was leaving the city of Medellín, Antioquia Departament, in the direction of the Atlantic coast. The comrade is a member of the Antioquia Teachers Association ADIDA ¯ CUT. We have put out an URGENT call to save our comrade’s life and well being, in the hope that he be returned safe and sound to his family and friends.
On 3rd January 2002, DANIEL ORLANDO GUTIERREZ RAMOS, co-ordinator of the Human Rights Department of the National Drivers Union of Colombia SINDINALCH-CGTD, was the victim of an assassination attempt. He was travelling in a public service vehicle which was cut across by a private vehicle, from which two shots were fired at him before it took flight.
On 10th January 2002 a bomb was thrown onto the back porch of the residence of SIGILFREDO GRUESO. It exploded, putting the family in high danger. The comrade is a union activist and has played an outstanding role in the recent mobilisations against privatisation led by SINTRAEMCALI-CUT.
So far this year, in just the first two weeks of 2002, there have been 3 assassinations, two disappearances, 2 attempted assassinations and three serious death threats. It is clear that there is no respect for the freedom of expression in Colombia, and so acts of violations of human rights pass by in silence. We demand real guarantees from the state to exercise our rights to organise freely as trade unions.
JESÚS ANTONIO GONZALEZ LUNA
Human Rights Department, CUT