THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
AND TO FORM AND JOIN UNIONS
The right to form and join trade and professional associations is
a basic principle that all 34 member states of the Organization must
observe. All are bound by
the provisions of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of
Man, and 20 must abide by the provisions of the American Convention on
For the ILO, the world agency that oversees and protects these
rights, the freedom to form and join labor unions must be guaranteed not
only in law but in practice as well. The State bears international responsibility for seeing that
the conventions are observed, regardless of whether the violations were
committed by employers. The
ILO's Union Freedom Committee believes Colombia's record of violations
of union freedom is one of the most serious, especially as regards the
guarantee of basic civil rights, which is a condition sine qua non
for proper exercise of freedom of association.
After examining the death threats made to union members, in its
259th report the ILO's Union Freedom Committee concluded that the
Colombian case was one of the most serious cases it had ever seen where
violation of the right to life was concerned; that impunity was
widespread in the country and that the dramatic violence that Colombia
was experiencing in general made any normal existence for the people
impossible and prevented full exercise of union activities.
It added that the climate of terror that these threats create can
only have an deleterious effect on the exercise of union activities,
which can only be exercised when basic human rights are respected, in
an atmosphere free of any form of violence, pressure or threat.
The international standards contained in the American Convention
on Human Rights and the national standards embodied in the 1991
Constitution of Colombia to protect and defend the right to freedom of
association and the freedom to form and join unions and their violation
are as follows:
PROVISIONS IN RESPECT OF THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
B. WAYS IN WHICH
THIS RIGHT HAS BEEN VIOLATED
Members of the Colombian Labour Confederation (CUT) and the
Special Committee of the IACHR discussed at length the various problems
with the right to freedom of association and the right to form and join
unions. The members of the
CUT told the Special Committee that organized labor has some 900,000
members nationwide, out of an economically active population of 11.5
million. There are some 3
million that could be unionized. The
serious impediments in the country's labor legislation, the posture
taken by officials of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the
anti-union sentiment among the vast majority of entrepreneurs, the
campaign constantly being waged from the highest levels of Government
via the mass media, and the war that the most conservative elements of
Colombian society have been waging against union leadership and activism
are some of the reasons why more of Colombian labor is not organized.
They said that very few workers in Colombia are able to exercise
their rights to organize for labor purposes, petition, bargain,
collective contracting and strike.
As for the application and enforcement of the ILO Conventions,
Colombia --they maintain--is one of the few countries where this has
never been possible, even though it ratified those conventions back in
1976 through Laws 26 and 27.
Although the 1991 Constitution recognizes the right to collective
bargaining and strike, these continue to be severely limited because of
the restrictions imposed on a number of activities that government
authorities regard as a public service. These authorities ignore the observations of the ILO's Union
Freedom Committee to the effect that a general restriction of the right
to strike is permissible only in the case of those services that are
classified as essential, which the ILO defines as those whose suspension
could jeopardize the safety or life of all or part of the public.
ILO watchdog agencies have also challenged the restriction on the
right to collective bargaining imposed on a large group of civil
servants classified as public employees.
It is obvious that in Colombia at the present time the civil and
political liberties which the International Labor Organization (ILO)
defines as being essential to the exercise of the right to form and join
unions are being seriously curtailed, especially the right to the
security of one's person. But
other rights are also being violated, such as the right to freedom
of opinion, the right to express one's opinion and the right of assembly.
RELATIVE TO THIS RIGHT
According to the CUT, between its establishment in November 1986
and May 1990, 538 union activists and leaders were killed and
disappeared; from May 1990 to November 1992, another 35 were
assassinated, bringing the total to 573 workers assassinated in the
union's short four-year existence.
The CUT then presented the IACHR's Special Commission with a
petition denouncing the following assassinations of its leaders and
members between 1988 and November 1990:
NEMESIO MACHUCA PAYAN
was murdered around 7:00 p.m. on February 14, 1988, while at a drinking
establishment. Gunmen shot
him to death. He was 33
years old and the father of two. JOSE
FRANCISCO POLO was killed on April 9, 1988, following a sports event
at the Workers Recreation Center. He
was killed by gunmen using weapons of differing caliber.
He was 50 years old and the father of three.
Also killed in this incident were HUMBERTO MARTINEZ and JOSE
ARLEY BEDOYA IBARRA. ANGEL
DAVID CASTAÑO AGUDELO was killed on September 24, 1988, at a
commercial establishment. A
group of locally-known gunmen was present when armed men entered and
attacked the gunmen, gravely wounding the worker, who was then shot by
the gunmen themselves. He
left two daughters. EMILTON
RODRIGUEZ, December 19,
1988, was wounded by gunmen at around 10:00 p.m.; the company ambulance
took him to Bucaramanga, where the same gunmen shot him again and killed
him. He left one daughter. JOSE
ANTONIO VEGA HERNANDEZ was murdered by two armed men at the door to
his home, on December 27, 1988. One
of his small daughters was wounded in the incident.
He left four children.
was shot and killed on January 1, 1989, while in a commercial
establishment. He left four
CUADROS was killed by hired gunmen on January 14, 1989, as he was
headed for a public establishment.
PEDRO PAEZ was killed on the street on January 14, 1989.
He left five children. JOSE
HOMES ESTEBAN was killed on January 29, 1989, as he was headed home. He left three children.
LIBARDO RENGIFO, agrarian leader of the municipality of
Palestina, department of Caldas, was attacked on Saturday, April 29,
when a gunman shot him five times in the back; he was taken to Hospital
Universitario in Manizales, where he died on Tuesday, May 2.
On May 9, BENJAMIN SOTELO, JOSE FRANCISCO MANTILLA
and JOSE SANTOS CAREPA, members of the Mining Union in the
Municipality of Ataco, Department of Tolima, were attacked there by
gunmen, who killed Sotelo and Mantilla and wounded Jose Santos.
TEODORO QUINTERO, auditor for SINTRACUEMPONAL,
Bucaramanga, disappeared on May 11, at 8:30 a.m., after being forced
into a taxi bearing license plates XK-9371.
He was later found dead on the road from Bucaramanga to
Piedecuesta, in the Department of Santander.
NICOLAS CIRO GIRALDO DE JESUS was assassinated on May 12,
1989, while waiting for the bus to work.
He left two children. ADOLFO
PEREZ AROSEMENA and CARLOS ENRIQUE MORALES, journalists and
collaborators of the Office of the Deputy Director of the CUT in Valle,
were found dead in the city of Cali, Department of Valle, on May 21.
Their bodies showed obvious signs of torture.
ISMAEL MONTES PEÑA and EVERT MANUEL CABRERA (17
years old), a high school teacher and student, respectively, were
murdered by hired gunmen in the village of Guadual, district of Los
Manguitos, municipality of Arboletes, Urabá region, Department of
Antioquia, on May 26. Professor
Montes was a member of the Antioquia Teachers Association, ADIDA.
CESAR ARCADIO CERON CHANTRE, auditor with the Inderena
Workers Union, SINTRARENA, Cauca branch, and a member of the Human
Rights Committee in that department, was killed by gunmen on June 10.
They shot him twice in the head as he was leaving his home in
Popayán, Department of El Cauca. LAUREANO
SANTAMARIA and JAIRO LEON VILLEGAS, payroll clerk and
professor, respectively, from the Necoclí Rural Development Center in
Antioquia, disappeared on June 15.
The two were forcibly removed from the educational facility and
shoved into a vehicle probably belonging to Inderena.
TOMAS VILLA VIVERO, a former laborer on the La Suerte
farm, former member of the farm's worker-employer committee and a member
of the CUT-affiliated National Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate
(SINTRAINAGRO), was murdered by a paramilitary group in Apartadó,
Department of Antioquia, on July 18 at 7:00 p.m.
JORGE GONZALEZ, MIGUEL MARTINEZ Y TORREGLOSA,
peasants affiliated with the CUT-affiliated National Small Farmers Union
(SINPAGRI), disappeared in the district of Costa de Oro, municipality of
Tierra Alta, Department of Cordoba, on July 18.
Their whereabouts are still unknown. On July 28 MARIA ELENA
DIAS PEREZ, Third Public Order Judge, a member of the National
Association of Judges and Judiciary Employees (ASONAL JUDICIAL) who was
conducting the investigation into the Urabá and Córdoba massacres, was
assassinated in Medellin by hired gunmen as she was on her way home.
MANUEL JOSE ZAPATA CARMONA and OMAR LEON GOMEZ MARIN,
professors at the Universidad de Antioquia and members of the
Association of University Professors (ASPU), were shot down by hired
gunmen in the Municipality of Bello, Department of Antioquia, July 29.
HENRY CUENCA VEGA, a worker at the Valle Cement Company
and President of the National Federation of Cement and Construction
Workers (FENALTRACONCEM), Secretary General of the Latin American
Federation of Construction, Cement and Wood Workers (FLEMACON) and a
member of the National Board of Directors of the CUT, was assassinated
by three hired gunmen in front of his home in Bogota, at 9:30 p.m. on
July 30. Mr. Cuenca had
already been the victim of an assault in the district of Yumbo.
GILBERTO SANTANA, principal of the Algarrobo District High
School and a member of the Magdalena Teachers Association (EDUMAG) -an
affiliate of the Colombian Teachers Federation (FECODE) and of the CUT,
was shot and killed by hired gunmen
in the district of Fundación, Department of Magdalena Medio, at
6:00 a.m. on August 1. IVAN
RESTREPO and FIDEL ROA, driver and worker on the Guatapuri
banana plantation, respectively, and both members of the National
Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate (SINTRAINAGRO), were abducted on July 27
and found dead in the District of Chigorodó, Department of Antioquia,
on August 1. DANIEL JOSE
ESPITIA, general treasurer of the Asociación Nacional de Usuarios
Campesinos (ANUC) and FABIO MIRANDA PUPO, Coordinator of the UP
political organization in Ayapel (Cordoba), were shot down by hired
gunmen at 6:00 p.m. on August 9, in the Cantaclaro district of the city
of Monteria, Department of Cordoba.
JUAN RIVERA, Vice President of the Union of Construction
Materials Workers (SUTIMAC), was assassinated by hired killers in the
District of Puerto Nare, Department of Antioquia, on August 11.
In protest, the Nare cement workers conducted a work stoppage in
the Sierra and Caracolí districts, along with the Colcarburos Union.
ORLANDO ROA GRIMALDUS, 30, an employee of the Santander
Power Company and a member of the National Union of Electrical Workers
of Colombia (SINTRAELECOL),
was shot down by hired killers on the night of Sunday, August 13, while
at his home in Bucaramanga, Department of Santander.
CARLOS ENRIQUE VALENCIA, Magistrate with the Bogota
Superior Court, was assassinated by hired gunmen in Bogota, Wednesday,
August 16. JUAN DE DIOS
RINCON was assassinated on August 30, 1989, as he was waiting for
the bus to work. He was
President of the San Alberto Council.
He left three children. On
September 9, in the district of Apartadó, Urabá region, Department of
Antioquia, SEBASTIAN MOSQUERA, accountant for the National
Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate (SINTRAINAGRO) and a member of the
National Board of Directors of the CUT, was killed by hired gunmen as he
was on his way to inform workers of the status of the labor
GOMEZ, union activist and negotiator of the most recent demands of
the SINTRAINAGRO-affiliated banana workers, was assassinated by
paramilitary on the Rio Vista farm, Municipality of Carepa, Department
of Antioquia, on September 9. CARLOS MARTINEZ, a SINTRAINAGRO bargainer on the
Agrocarambolos farm, was taken by force from his home by four heavily
armed individuals in civilian dress, who then killed him. The incident
took place in the municipality of Apartadó, department of Antioquia, on
September 9. In Cali, in
the Department of El Valle, MANUEL NOVOA, an activist with the
National Rubber and Plastic Workers Union (SINTRACAUCHOPLASTICO) and
former president of the Goodyear Workers Union, disappeared on September
15 as he was coming off work; on September 18, his body was found
floating in the Cauca river and showed visible signs of torture; his
hands were tied behind his back. LUIS
E. DURAN, a member of the Nare Cement Workers Union, was murdered by
a hired gunman as he was headed home from work, on Friday, September 29,
in Nare, Department of Antioquia. In
Medellín, department of Antioquia, at 7:00 a.m. on October 17 HECTOR
JIMENEZ RODRIGUEZ, a Magistrate with the Criminal Court of Antioquia
and a member of the ASONAL JUDICIAL, was assassinated by hired gunmen as
he was waiting for friends to pick him up.
DIEGO LUIS MARTINEZ, a worker and member of the National
Labor Union (SINDEBRAS), was murdered by hired gunmen while at his home
in the district of Turbo, Department of Antioquia, Friday October 20, at
6:30 p.m. ENOC CAMPOS
and ALBERTO LOPEZ, members of the National Agroindustrial Labor
Syndicate (SINTRAINAGRO) and part of the Strike Committee formed in
connection with the list of demands submitted by the banana workers,
were murdered by hired killers in the municipality of Apartado, Uraba
region, on the night of Saturday, October 21.
On October 23 the banana workers conducted a work stoppage to
protest this new act of violence. NEL
DARIO GOMEZ, a worker at the Colombian Agrarian Reform Institute
(INCORA), was assassinated in Montería, Department of Córdoba, on
November 20, at 6:00 p.m., as he was leaving his place of work.
Two men on a motorbike shot him down.
He was Secretary General of the INCORA Syndicate, SINTRADIN, in Córdoba.
On October 25, EUCLIDES LIZARAZO PERTUZ, a teacher and
member of the Magdalena Teachers Union (EDUMAG) and employed at the
Cristo Rey High School in Santa Marta, was killed there by hired gunmen.
Mr. Lizarazo had been threatened on numerous occasions.
RODRIGO QUINTERO DE LA PAVA, once a member of the
Executive Board of ASONAL JUDICIAL, and GUILLERMO MENA LOZANO, an
activist in that organization, were killed in Cali on October 26.
Their bodies, found in the Cauca river, showed signs that they
had been tortured after being abducted as they were leaving their place
of work the previous Thursday night.
MARIELA ESPINOZA ARANGO, magistrate and member of ASONAL
JUDICIAL, was assassinated by hired gunmen in Medellin, Department of
Antioquia, on November 1. On
November 24, ARTURO LOPEZ and his wife MARIA DE LOPEZ,
both teachers and members of the Meta Teachers Association (ADEM), were
attacked by hired gunmen in Guamal (Meta).
Maria de Lopez was killed instantly, while Arturo Lopez survived.
HECTOR MARTINEZ was murdered by hired gunmen on November
27, 1989, as he was on his way from San Alberto to Puerto Carreño.
LUIS ALFONSO PEREZ VINAZCO, an active member of the
CUT-affiliated National Agricultural Workers Union (SINALTRAINAL),
disappeared in the municipality of Bugalagrande, Department of Valle del
Cauca, on the evening of November 30.
HERIBERTO ESPINOZA, Secretary General of the Antioquia
Amalgamated Union (FESUTRAN) and a member of the National Executive
Board of the CUT, was assassinated by hired gunmen in Medellin,
Department of Antioquia. The
assassination occurred on Friday, December 15 at 6:00 p.m., two blocks
from FESUTRAN headquarters. He
was shot seven times and taken to a clinic, but died shortly thereafter.
AQUILES GUTIERREZ OCHOA
and his FATHER disappeared on January 4, 1990, as they were on
their way to a farm outside San Alberto.
On January 14, peasant farmers JOSE DEL CARMEN ALVAREZ BLANCO,
SANTIAGO GONZALEZ, JORGE FERMIN CALDE HERNANDES, ANDRES FLOREZ
ALTAMIRANDA, CARMELO GUERRA PESTAÑA, JOSE PETRO HERNANDEZ, LUIS CARLOS
RICARDO, ELIDE RICARDO PEREZ, GENARO CALDERON, RAUL PEREZ, WILSON
FUENTES, DIOMENES BARRERA OROZCO, VICTOR ARGEL HERNANDEZ, JUAN MEZA
SERRANO, MIGUEL PEREZ, JUAN LIOS ESCOBAR, LEONEL ESCOBAR, OVIDIO SUAREZ,
JUAN CRUZ, BENITO PEREZ PEDROZA, JENOR ARRIETA LORA, MIGUEL GUTIERREZ
ARRIETA, RICARDO BOHORQUEZ, LUIS MIGUEL ESPINOZA, URIAS BARRERA OROZCO,
JOSE BARRERA OROZCO, MIGUEL LOPEZ, JORGE MARTINEZ, MANUEL MONTES
MARTINEZ, CRISTOBAL ARROYO BLANCO and JORGE CASTRO, of Pueblo Bello
in the municipality of Turbo, Department of Antioquia, were taken away
by a group of 40 men in military dress and by civilians carrying galil
rifles or submachine guns. The
paramilitary group that calls itself Los Tangueros claimed
responsibility for this act. JESUS
ALBERTO BONILLA PICO, former Treasurer of the Colombian Teamsters
Union (UNIMOTOR) and former Vice Chairman of the Santander Labor Union
(USITRAS) -both CUT affiliates-, was assassinated by two hired killers,
who shot him in the back as he was leaving the USITRAS offices at 10:00
a.m. on January 26. He was
employed by the department and was a member of SINTRADEPARTAMENTALES. For some months he had been receiving telephone threats
warning him that he would be killed if he did not abandon his union
ALZA and FELIPE BLANCO, members of the CUT-affiliated
Indupalma Workers Union (ASINTRAINDUPALMA), were assassinated by hired
gunmen, who also wounded PEDRO MARIA RINCON and another individual whose
identity is unknown. The
incident occurred in San Alberto, Department of Cesar, on January 27.
FREDY PEREZ, JAIME BELTRAN, ELIECER SUAREZ and SAUL
ORTIZ, members of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia
(ONIC), were murdered in the indigenous community of Zenu on January 30.
MARCOS PADILLA and ELIECER GUERRERO, workers on the
La Toscana farm in the municipality of Carepa, Department of Antioquia
and members of the National Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate
(SINTRAINAGRO), were murdered by armed men who came to the encampments
on the farm in question. FELIPE
BLANCO VARGAS was shot by armed gunmen on January 27, 1990, as he
was waiting for transportation along the road in the La Palma district.
Military stationed at a base some 100 meters away were
immediately notified of what happened, but refused to pursue the gunmen.
He died on February 7, leaving four children.
At 9:00 a.m. on February 13, a man and a woman shot GUSTAVO
DE JESUS GONZALEZ, Vice President of the National Union of
Colcarburos Workers, La Sierra branch, in the Department of Antioquia,
while he was on a Medellín city bus.
AMPARO TORRES SERRANO, a teacher and a member of the
Santander Teachers Union (SES), was murdered by hired gunmen in
Bucaramanga, Department of Santander, on February 13.
AMAYER MARQUEZ, director of the National Association of
Hospital, Clinic and Medical Office Workers (ANTHOC), Cartago Branch,
was killed by three hired gunmen as he was leaving his home in the
municipality of Cartago, Department of El Valle, on February 16.
DARIO OSPINA, professor at the Juan XXIII School and a
member of the Antioquia Teachers Association (ADIDA), was killed by a
group of hired gunmen in the municipality of Bello, Department of
Antioquia, on February 16. ANGEL
GONZALEZ, DOMINGO GONZALEZ and RODRIGO JIMENEZ, farm workers
on the Mundo Nuevo hacienda and members of the National Agroindustrial
Labor Syndicate (SINTRAINAGRO), Cordoba branch, were taken from the
hacienda by a group of 10 heavily armed men who surrounded some of the
workers and then cut their victims' throats and threw them in a pond on
hacienda land. This
happened in El Carmelo, Alto Sinu region, Department of Cordoba, on
February 17. BERTA
GALEANO disappeared in the same incident.
On February 19, two armed men driving by in a Renault 4 shot and
killed FABIOLA ROCIO LOAYZA ALZATE, 38, married, Director of the
Simona Duque School and a member of the Antioquia Teachers Association
(ADIDA); when the shooting happened, the victim was entering home in the
neighborhood of Aranjuez in Medellín, Department of Antioquia.
MASSACRE IN THE TOWN OF EL CASTILLO, Department of Meta.
Farmhands JACINTO SOA (60), BERNARDINO PRIETO (55),
and young HORACIO PRIETO, OMERLY MONTOYA, JOSE ARCADIO ZEA and EUGENIO
PRIETO were killed by 15 men in military dress, on February 24.
RUBEN DARIO ULLOA ULLOA, a teacher and member of the
Caldas Teachers Union (EDUCAL) and working in the municipality of
Risaralda, Department of Caldas, was murdered by hired gunmen in the
municipality of Virginia, department of Risaralda, on February 24.
SILFREDO RODRIGUEZ was killed on February 24, 1990, as he
was headed for his home in Cachira (Norte de Santander). He was shot after being forced out of the vehicle he was in.
He left two daughters. NORA
RUIZ FLORES, librarian with the Unguia Agricultural Institute and a
member of the CUT-affiliated Union of National Education Ministry
Workers (SINTRENAL), was killed along with another four leaders of the
Unión Patriótica, in the municipality of Unguia, Department of Choco,
on February 28. Also on
February 28, JOSUE VARGAS MATEUS, SAUL CASTAÑEDA, leaders of the
Carare Peasant Association, and journalist SILVIA MARGARITA DUZAN and
MIGUEL ANGEL BARAJAS, members of the Bogota Journalist Club, were
killed by hired gunmen in the town of Cimitarra, Department of
Santander, as the journalist was doing a story on them.
PABLO EMILIO CARDENAS, Treasurer of SINTRAPROACEITES, and
his brother-in-law ALVARO MORA, a worker and member of
ASINTRAINDUPALMA (both SINTRAPROACEITES and ASINTRAINDUPALMA,
headquartered in San Alberto in the department of El Cesar, are CUT
affiliated), were murdered as they were going from San Alberto to
Bucaramanga on March 4. Then
their bodies turned up in the town of Chimita.
They had been tortured and shot in the head. Cardenas left two daughters.
GILBERTO JOSE MONTES MONTIEL (28), a teacher at the Rabo
Mocho School in the village of Tapa Sola, municipality of Planeta Rica,
Department of Cordoba, and a member of the Cordoba Teachers Association
(ADEMACOR), was murdered by hired gunmen on March 6.
On March 14, ANTONIO ESPEJO HERRERA, JAIME VIDES AMARIS
and JORGE POLO CAMARGO, of the National Natural Resource
Institute (INDERENA), were harassed near the mouth of the Fundacion
River, Department of Magdalena, by the Colombian Air Force (FAC), COCUM
III Airbase. When they
reached Cienaga, they were hit by machine-gun fire and Mr. Espejo was
killed. In the municipality
of Apartado, Department of Antioquia, DIONISIO BOLIVAR, a banana
worker on the El Congo plantation and a member of SINTRAINAGRO, was
assaulted by gunmen on Tuesday, March 13, and died on Wednesday, March
14. AUGUSTO MALDONADO,
a political and grassroots labor leader and a member of the
ASINTRAINDUPALMA union, was murdered by hired killers as he was leaving
his house in the Primero de Mayo neighborhood in the municipality of San
Alberto, Department of El Cesar, on March 15.
JOSE AUGUSTO MALDONADO was killed by a hired assassin on
March 15, 1990, as he was arriving home in the Primero de Mayo
neighborhood of San Alberto (Cesar).
On March 23, RENE CASTILLO BOHORQUEZ, a leader of
the FECODE-CUT affiliated Boyaca Teachers Union
(SINDIMAESTROS), was assassinated by hired gunmen in the
municipality of Almeyda, Department of Boyaca. On March 27, GENTIL
CORDOBA, a worker on the Guatapuri farm and treasurer of the
Chigorodo section of SINTRAINAGRO and a town councilman, was taken from
the farm by a number of men and found dead several hours later. ANSELMO DIAZ, a worker on the Guatapuri farm and a
member of SINTRAINAGRO, was taken away by force by a group of men and
found dead several hours later. This
incident occurred in the municipality of Chigorodo, Department of
Antioquia, on March 27. MIGUEL
A. CORREA and FELIX ESPITIA, workers on the El Romeral farm
in the municipality of Chigorodo and members of SINTRAINAGRO--Mr. Correa
was Secretary General of SINTRAINAGRO--, were assassinated by hired
gunmen. LEON DARIO JIMENEZ, a member of the Complaints
Committee of the National Union of Coffee Bank Workers (SINTRABANCA) -an
affiliate of FENASIBANCOL-CUT, was shot by two hired gunmen who had been
lying in wait on a motorbike in Monteria, Department of Córdoba, on
March 29. LUIS FERNANDO
MUÑOZ, a worker with Curtiembres Titan and member of the company
union (SINTRATITAN), was murdered by several armed men who identified
themselves as members of the Cali death squads; when they were unable to
get into his house, they fired their weapons, killing a friend and
wounding his wife and mother-in-law.
This happened in Cali, Department of El Valle, on April 17.
JOHN JAIRO GALINDO and JOHN EDWARD FANDIÑO CORREA,
workers on the La Venturosa and Araguates farms and members of
SINTRAINAGRO, were at the Palermo Restaurant when they were arrested by
police in Medellín on May 16. They
were found dead on May 17. On
June 6, JULIO CESAR ARIAS CASTAÑO, 40, a teacher serving as
Director of the Teachers Services Center in the Municipality of Bolivar
(Antioquia) and a member of the Antioquia Teachers Association (ADIDA),
was assassinated while on a city bus, as he was headed for work in
TORRES IBARGUEN, a worker on the La Caridad farm and a member of its
Employee-Management Committee, and CLAUDIO BENITEZ, another
farmhand at La Caridad, were both members of SINTRAINAGRO; on June 6, at
around 6:30 a.m., 12 uniformed men, some wearing wigs, came to the farm
carrying long- and short-range weapons and machetes.
They assembled the workers and, claiming to be a guerrilla group,
grabbed the two workers and shot them in the presence of their
co-workers. Mr. Americo was
wounded and started running; they caught him and killed him with a
machete. In Cali, at 10:15
p.m. on June 6, PEDRO PABLO OSPINA, an ECOPETROL worker and
member of the USO Labor Union, was attacked by an armed gunman who shot
him four times and killed him as he was getting ready to board the bus
for work. Mr. Ospina had
survived an attempt two years earlier.
SILVIO VALENCIA MEDINA, Professor and Director of the La
Rejoya Rural School and a member of the Cauca Teachers Association
(ASOINCA), was killed in Popayan on June 7, at 7:30 a.m.
HECTOR MARIO LOPEZ, Secretary General of the Cali Public
Enterprise Labor Union, was assassinated at his home in Cali on June 18.
EUGENIO GALINDO OROZCO and JOAQUIN GALINDO OROZCO
were assassinated on June 6, in the municipality of Apartadó, by two
hired assassins in civilian dress, who were firing their guns when they
entered the Galindo Orozco home. Eugenio
was Secretary of Education of the Apartadó Branch of SINTRAINAGRO.
Both were members of the Frente Popular.
APOLINAR FABRA was assassinated on July 8 at Galicia farm
in the municipality of Carepa (Antioquia).
A group of armed men in civilian dress came to his place of work,
called for him by name and then shot him dead at close range.
Apolinar was the Solidarity Secretary at the Carepa Branch of
CUESTA was murdered on July 9 on the Marta Teresa farm in the
municipality of Carepa (Uraba Antioquia) by a group of armed men in
civilian dress, who shot him at close range.
The farm had been searched some days earlier by the Army.
Alfonso was a banana worker and a member of SINTRAINAGRO. JORGE SIERRA, Director of the Monteria Small
Businessmen's Syndicate (UPECOMON-CUT), was murdered on July 7 in Montería
(Córdoba). ALVARO GOMEZ
PADILLA, Education Director and Chief of the Montería Education
District, and a member of the ADEMACOR-CUT Teachers Union, was murdered
in Montería on July 15, by gunmen who shot him in his own home.
GONZALO CASTAÑO ZAPATA, President of the Caldas
Federation of Labor (FEDECALDAS-CUT) and a member of the National Board
of Directors of the CUT, in events that transpired in Manizales on July
19. AVELINO ACHICANOY, 32 and a member of the Strike
Committee of the Nariño Coca Cola Bottling Plant Union, was found dead
on the outskirts of the city, beside the road north.
He had been shot in the head.
His death orphaned 5 children.
He was killed in the city of Pasto on July 25.
MARBI ALONSO FORONDA, a worker from La Palma and a member
of USITRAS, was murdered on Monday, August 6, in the El Pedregal
District, Municipality of Puerto Wilches, Department of Santander, by a
band of hired gunmen who showed up at his house at dawn.
To protest this new crime, 500 workers held an indefinite work
stoppage to pressure national and local authorities to give them
JARAMILLO, a worker from Croydon and a SINTRAINCAPLA delegate, was
murdered as he was leaving his home on his way to work, by two men who
shot him seven times in the head. This
happened in the Barlovento neighborhood of Bogota, on August 23.
HECTOR CASTRO, ROQUE JIMENEZ (workers) and LEONEL
SUMAQUE (foreman) of the Alameda farm, all members of SINTRAINAGRO,
were on their way to work in Chigorodó (Antioquia) at 5:00 a.m. on
August 27, when they were attacked by a group of men dressed in army
clothing. On August 26, MANUEL
VERONA, a member of the National Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate
(SINTRAINAGRO), was murdered on the Chinia farm in Urubá (Antioquia).
He was with friends when a group of armed men suddenly appeared
and fired at close range; one worker and his wife were wounded.
ROEL ALVIS, a member of the Complaints Committee of the
National Board of the Securities Teamsters Union (SINTRAVALORES), was
taken into custody at his home on August 29, at 7:30 a.m.
Two individuals who identified themselves as F-2 agents ordered
him to accompany them and put him in a black jeep.
His bruised body was found later at El Espinal (Tolima), with
bullet wounds to the head. HERNANDO
LUGO, a member of the Hospital Workers Union of Cartagena, was
killed on September 6 in Cartagena.
RUTH CLAVIJO, a school teacher in Medellín, was murdered
there on September 7. HERBERT
HENAO, a worker at the Villanueva farm in Apartadó (Antioquia), was
shot and killed instantly by a group of men who showed up at the farm on
September 14. SAUL ANAYA MAZA, a member of the Córdoba Teachers
Association and of the Colombian Federation of Teachers (FECODE), was
assassinated on a main street in Monteria on September 19.
EDILMA MORENO, an activist with the National
Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate (SINTRAINAGRO) and a member of the
Apartadó town council after being elected to it as the candidate of the
Unión Patriótica, was killed on October 19 as she was leaving the
Apartadó town festival with friends.
On October 25 PABLO ANTONIO GONZALEZ and JOHN JAIRO
GOMEZ, members of the SINTRAPROACEITES Union, were killed when they
were assaulted by a group of armed men wearing military dress.
Gonzalez and Gomez were forced out of their vehicle and shot
ANTONIO GONZALEZ was murdered by gunmen on October 24, 1990, in the
municipality of San Alberto. ESTEBAN
PALMET DOMINGUEZ, Director of the Secondary Education Institute
(INEM) of Apartadó (Antioquia), was killed by gunmen at 10:00 p.m. on
October 26, as he arrived home. To
protest his assassination, the Antioquia Teachers Association (ADIDA)
began a department-wide work stoppage.
On October 27, as he was crossing a main street in the town of
Ricaurte, LUIS EDUARDO CALDERON, a leader of the
FENSUAGRO-affiliated Cundinamarca Farm Workers Union (SINTRAGRICUN), was
killed by two gunmen on a motorbike.
OFER HERNANDEZ, a member of the Departmental Board of the
Antioquia Labor Federation, Envigado Branch, and a worker with the
FURESA company in the Ardila Lulle group, was killed on October 31 in
the northwestern corner of Manrique District, at around 11:30 a.m., as
he was leaving his place of residence to go to work.
He was approached by a gunman who shot him seven times and killed
him. HERNAN GENTIL MARTINEZ
PABON, a teacher working for the Department of El Cauca, in the
district of San Lorenzo, municipality of Bolivar, was murdered by hired
gunmen on the night of November 4.
He was 33 and left two small children.
GERMAN REDONDO, Secretary General of the Colombian
Sugarcane Industry Workers Union (SINTRAICAÑAZUCOL), was murdered at
6:45 a.m. on November 13, on board a bus that was carrying the workers
from the San Carlos de Tuluá (Valle) mill.
For their part, representatives of the Colombian Teachers
Federation (FECODE) described in detail the problems that teachers and
teachers' unions were experiencing and delivered the following list of
teachers murdered in 1989:
FERMIN MELENDEZ ACOSTA,
former President of ADEMACOR, President of the CUT-affiliated Córdoba
Federation of Labor (FETRACOR) and a member of the National Board of
Directors of the CUT, was murdered on January 1.
FRANCISCO DE PAULA PEREZ CASTRILLON, a professor at the
"Pedro Luis Villa" School, Manrique district, Medellín, was
killed on January 1. GILDARDO
CASTAÑO OROZCO, Professor at the ESAP and the Universidad Catolica
de Pereira and President of the Risaralda Teachers Association (APROR),
was killed on January 6. MARIA
ELVIRA DE ANGULO, a teacher at the Barrancabermeja National School,
Department of Santander, was killed on January 9, 1989.
ALFONSO GARCIA CANO, professor at the
"Piedrecitas" village school in the municipality of Turbo,
Department of Antioquia, was crossing the campus of the Universidad de
Antioquia on January 12, 1989, when he was shot by individuals from a
passing vehicle. MARIO
ORTIZ, professor of the Universidad del Valle.
LUIS FRANCISCO CHAPARRO, Vice President of the Office of
the Deputy Director of the Caquetá Teachers Association (AICA), was
murdered on January 25, 1989, in the district of Curillo in the
department of Caquetá. JONHY JOSE VANEGAS, a professor in the Caracolicito
district, municipality of El Copey, department of El Cesar, was murdered
on January 26. JAIME
GOMEZ LONDOÑO, a teacher, was killed on January 28, 1989, in the
municipality of Quinchia in the department of Risaralda.
HECTOR AUGUSTO SINNING CARDENAS, full-time professor of
Social Sciences at the "Manuel H. Iriarte U." Night School,
was killed on February 16, 1989. ORLANDO
ANIBAL MONROY VERGARA, IDEM professor in the municipality of
Caucasia, department of Antioquia, was killed in that municipality on
February 19. JAIME E.
JESUS GALLEGO FLOREZ, another IDEM professor, was also wounded.
JOSE VICENTE MUNAR OSORIO, a teacher at the Primavera
Rural School in Génova, department of Quindío, was murdered on
February 27 as he was on his way to work. Sister TERESA RAMIREZ, a nun with the Company of Mary
and a union activist, was teaching at the Cristales High School in the
municipality of San Roque, department of Antioquia when she was murdered
on February 28, 1989. JORGE
LUIS GARCES, a teacher at the Miraflores School, village of San
Antonio, municipality of Mistrató, department of Risaralda, was
murdered on March 12. He
had been receiving threats since 1987.
SAUL REINA PEREA, professor at the Salado Grande Village
School, municipality of Puerto Leguízamon, Putumayo National
Intendency, was assassinated on March 20 at his place of work, in the
presence of his wife and two children.
HERNAN CASTRO CALDERON, professor of the San Pablo High
School, municipality of Curillo, department of Caquetá, was murdered on
April 3. He had been
receiving threats. LUIS
ALBERTO CARDONA, Professor at the Santa Rosa de Cabal Cooperative
University in the department of Risaralda and Chairman of the Greater
Caldas Human Rights Committee, was killed on April 4 near Tarapacá, on
one of the Alcalá Express Line buses.
He had been receiving threats.
FERNANDO MESA CASTILLO, professor of the Cartago National
High School, department of El Valle, and a professor at a private high
school. JORGE OSORNO
OSORNO, a teacher from the municipality of Amalfi and its delegate
to the Assembly of the Antioquia Teachers Association (ADIDA), was
killed at his home in Amalfi on May 7.
HERNAN CUELLO DAZA, a teacher at the José Antonio Dávila
Departmental High School in the municipality of San Juan del Cesar,
Department of La Guajira, was killed on May 19.
HUMBERTO JOSE BLANCO JULIAO, professor at the Gabriel
Escobar Ballesta National High School in the Municipality of Plato,
department of Magdalena, was killed at his home on May 20.
The professor had been receiving threats.
MIGUEL ANTONIO RODRIGUEZ RUBIO, principal of the Córdoba
Institute in Bogota, D.E., was attacked at the school on the night of
May 21 and was taken to the San Ignacio Hospital, where he died moments
later. MILTON MARQUEZ
MONTAÑES, professor of the La Pitala rural school, municipality of
El Carmen, department of Santander, was killed in that village on May
24. EDILBERTO MARIN PATIÑO,
professor at the La Dorada National Institute, La Dorada municipality,
department of Caldas, was killed on May 28.
LEONEL GARCIA RESTREPO, a teacher who worked at the farm
camp, was killed on July 8. MANUEL
MARIA MALLARINO was killed in the presence of his 9-year old son.
GUILLERMO PASOS, a professor at the Puerto Wilches
Industrial Technical Institute, department of Santander, was killed on
July 8. A member of the
staff of the National Rehabilitation Plan Program was also seriously
FERNANDEZ CHILITO, a teacher at the César Negrette Velasco School
in Popayán, department of El Cauca, was murdered on August 2, 1989, as
was his father, Mr. DEMETRIO FERNANDEZ and his brother BANDELINO,
in the municipality of San Sebastián, department of San Sebastián.
On August 10, GUSTAVO DE JESUS MIRA RAMIREZ, a teacher at
the Maria Bernal School in the Municipality of Itaguí, department of
Antioquia, and an activist with the Antioquia Teachers Association
(ADIDA), was coming from the Peldar Union and headed for the highway
when he was killed. JULIO
CESAR PEÑALOZA, a professor at the Soacha Departmental High School
and a town councilman, was seriously wounded on August 18 in the attack
on Dr. Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento.
He died on August 23. RICAURTE
CUARTAS RAMIREZ, auditor of the Caicedonia Local, was killed on
September 20 as he was returning from presiding over the Municipal
Assembly. He was a guidance
counselor at the José Eusebio Caro High School.
TEODORO VASQUEZ BORIGUA, a professor at the Samper High
School in the municipality of Guaduas, department of Cundinamarca, was
killed on September 24 as he was about to enter his house.
He had been transferred from Chaguaní (Cundinamarca) because he
was being threatened. ALVARO
CAÑAS LONDOÑO, a teacher at the La Presentación High
School and union coordinator in the municipality of La Virginia,
Department of Risaralda, was killed on September 28, at a place called
Guadalupe, between Pereira and La Virginia. JOSE ALIRIO RODRIGUEZ,
a teacher at the Santa Cecilia rural school (municipal contract
teacher) in the municipality of Landázuri, department of Santander, was
killed on October 9 in the village of El Estanco in that same
municipality and department. EVER
GENTIL HOYOS PALECHOR, a teacher at the Santa Marta Rural School,
municipality of La Sierra, department of El Cauca, was killed on October
14. LUIS FERNANDO MESA
RIOS, a teacher at the Village School in El Barcinal, municipality
of El Santuario, department of Risaralda, and a community leader, was
killed on October 19. EUCLIDES
LIZARAZO, former member of the Norte de Santander Teachers Union
(ASINORT), a former secretary of UTRANORTE and a teacher at the Cristo
Rey School in Santa Marta, department of Magdalena, was killed on
October 25 as he was leaving his place of work.
He had been receiving threats since May 1988.
CRISTOBAL ALVAREZ ROJAS, a teacher in the municipality of
Aratoca, department of Santander, was killed on November 21. MARIA
DE JESUS NEIRA RODRIGUEZ DE LOPEZ, a teacher in the municipality of
El Guamal, department of Meta, and her husband ARTURO LOPEZ were
shot on November 23, as they were leaving the school on the outskirts of
El Guamal. MARIA DE JESUS
NEIRA died instantly and ARTURO LOPEZ was gravely wounded and received
emergency treatment at a Villavicencio clinic.
On November 20, BORIS ZAPATA MESA, professor at the
University of Córdoba, was shot and killed in the main square of Montería,
capital of the department of Córdoba.
LUIS ANTONIO GARAVITO PARRA, a teacher from the village of
Lejanías, municipality of Granada, Department of El Meta, was killed on
November 28, in Dosquebradas, a municipality in the same department.
ILDUARA SANCHEZ PALACIOS, a teacher from the village of
Barcinales, municipality of Santuario, department of Risaralda, was
killed on December 9 in Pereira in that same department.
These very serious collective complaints, which involving a
succession of separate incidents, cannot be processed by the Commission
according to the mechanisms and procedures established in articles 48 to
51 of the American Convention since the collective Colombian cases are
beyond the scope of any procedural mechanism contemplated in either the
Convention or the Commission's Statute and Regulations.
Nevertheless, the Commission is absolutely certain that it has
the competence to take cognizance of complaints of this nature on a
case-by-case basis, whatever degree of responsibility the Colombian
Government may bear in each case.
The Commission must inform the Colombian authorities that it is
deeply disturbed by these terrible events and would therefore like to
impress upon those authorities, which are undoubtedly aware of these
facts, the importance of investigating them and punishing those
responsible, and of considering, in each case, the possibility of paying
fair compensatory damages to the victims' next-of-kin.