118 assassinations, 23 failed assassin attempts, 66 disappearances and an indeterminate number of trade unionists threatened and displaced recorded so far this year by the Human Rights Department, of the Colombian Workers Federation "CUT".
Here are some of the case in the last three months:
On 9th August teacher and union leader JHON JAIRO OCAMPO FRANCO came to finish his work at education training centre in the city of Armenia in Quindío Department. He was the victim of an attempt on his life using fire arms which left his face seriously injured. The comrade is Treasurer of the Quinío Teachers Union, SUTEQ, and hence a member of FECODE affiliated to the CUT.
On 13th August SEGUNDO FLORENTINO CHAVEZ, General Secretary of the Dagua Official Workers and Public Employees Trade Union, was assassinated. The murder was committed by armed men at the union’s office in Dagua Municipality, which is in Valle del Cauca Department. Our comrade had received many threats, which on repeated occasions he had reported to the National Government, urgently demanding that security measures be taken. On 10th July 2001 the Interior Ministry Protection Programme approved a scheme for union leaders, including Florentino. But the approval had a [qualifying] note, "subject to budget".
One Day in August
At 8.45 pm on 16th August MANUEL PAJARO PEINADO was assassinated at his home. He was Treasurer of the Baranquilla District Public Services Union – SINDIBA. This comrade had been seeking inclusion in the Interior Ministry Protection Programme, but had not received a positive response, despite the fact that DAS state security officials had carried out a security study. This event took place as the union was mounting a series of protests against the application of Law 617 by the District Administration, with the objective of massive lay-offs and thereby liquidating trade union organisation.
The CUT Regional Executive in Atlántico Department has been very threatened and this situation is getting more serious. Actions against its leaders are incessant. Two condolence cards arrived at the CUT office in Barranquilla, warning comrades EDGAR PUA (Treasurer) and JOSÉ MERIÑO (Auditor) of the Atlántico Section of ANTHOC, Association of Workers and Employees in Hospitals, Clinics and Organisations Dedicating to Protecting the Health of the Community that they just 12 hours to leave the city. Both comrades had received a previous warning on 6th June. A communique was left under the door, it threatened the death of comrade GUSTAVO VILLANUEVA, who is the director of the Polonuevo section of ANTHOC and a member of the Atlántico section of the union. And we have been unofficially informed that a heavily armed group of men are following two other executive members of this union, JESÚS TOVAR (Auditor) and ILDIS JARAVA (Treasurer) to their homes in order to execute them.
Also on 16th August, three members of SINTRAELECOL, the Electricity Workers Union of Colombia, all members of the Branch Executive Committee in Fusagasuga, in Cundinamarca Department, fell victim to an assassination attack as they left their workplace at 5.30pm. DORIS LOZANO NÚÑEZ of the Claims Committee, was killed, and Education Secretary OMAR GARCIA ANGUILO was seriously injured, while the other comrade got away unhurt.
And on 16th August teacher MIRYAM DE JESÚS RIOS MARTÍNEZ was assassinated in El Ingenio village in San Rafael Municipality, Antioquia Department. She was a member of ADIDA, the Antioquia Teachers Association.
That same day teacher HECTOR EDUARDO CORTEZ ARROYABE from the village of Copacabana in Barbosa Municipality, Antioquia department, was disappeared. His murdered body was found on 18th August in the village of La Tolda.
And finally on 16th August 2001, the AUC paramilitary organisation presented an ultimatum to members of SINTRAOFAN, the Antioquia Official Municipal Workers Union, in the municipality of Andes, that if they did not leave the union and renounce their collective bargaining agreement they would be executed.
On 22nd August teacher EVERT ENCIZO was assassinated in the city of Villavicencio in Meta Department. She was Director of La Reliquia School, and her work was directed towards displaced people. She was a member of the Meta Teachers Association, ADEM-CUT.
On 28th August ex-teacher JORGE FREITE ROMERO was disappeared. He had just ended a 22 day protest demanding payment of unpaid monthly pension, and had been experiencing death threats.
On 29th August he was assassinated in the road that runs from Cienaga to Baranquilla in Atlántico Department. He was a member of the Atlántico University Retired Peoples Association ASOJUA and stood out for his trade union and human rights efforts.
On 29th August YOLANDA PATERNINA NGRETE was assassinated nearby to her house on the city of Soncelejo, in Sucre Department. She was a Special Judge in Public Order, and was in charge of a number of high risk cases. She was a member of the National Association of Functionaries and Employees of the Justice Branch – ASONAL-CUT.
On 30th August MIGUEL CHAVEZ was assassinated in the village of Playa Rica in Tambo Municiplaity, Cauca Department. He was a member of the executive of the Tambo Branch of the Association of Workers and Employees in Hospitals, Clinics and Organisations Dedicating to Protecting the Health of the Community ANTHOC-CUT and used to work in Tambo Hospital and as a health promoter in Planeta Rica village.
RAFAEL PINEDA GOMEZ, regional president of the National Bank Employees Union (UNEB), was killed on the night of Saturday 8th September. Several assailants shot Pineda to death in Puente Nacional. Gomez also served on the town council. His murder took place in an outlying part of the township where he had gone to hold meetings with the community.
ANTONIO MESA was assassinated on 25th September, at his home in Barranquilla city, Atántico Departament, by unknown men who got away on a motorbike. He was the leader of the local branch of University Workers Union SINTRAUNICOL – CUT.
On 28th September teacher GERMAN ELIAS MADRIGAL MUNOZ was assassinated at this home Caucasia Municipality, Antioquia Department. He was a member of the Antioquia Teachers Association ADIDA – CUT.
ANA RUBY ORREGO was assassinated on 3rd October, in Yotoco Municipality, Valle del Cauca Departament. She was a teacher and a member of the Valley teachers Association SUTEV – CUT.
One day in October
Three trade unionists were assassinated in one day, on Wednesday, 10th October:
- JORGE IVAN RIVERA MANRIQUE in Pereira, Risaralda Departament, who was a member of the Risaralda Teachers Union SER – CUT.
- CERVANDO LERMA near to Uribe Uribe Park, which is in Barrancabermeja, Santander Departament. The comrade had been an outstanding activist member of the Oil Workers Union USO – CUT.
- RAMÓN ANTONIO JARAMILLO was killed in the massacre carried out by the paramilitaries near to Buga, Valle del Cauca Departament, The comrade was a member of the Executive Committee of the Buga branch of the Public Sector and Autonomus Institutes Workers Union SINTRAEMSDES – CUT.
From information provided by:
JESÚS ANTONIO GONZALEZ LUNA
Director Derechos Humanos
and DOMINGO TOVAR ARRIETA
Departamento de Organización / Derechos Humanos