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Murders of trade unionists go unpunished in Colombia

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Snapshot for February 26, 2008.

Murders of trade unionists go unpunished in Colombia

by Tony Avirgan

Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. Over the past 21 years, more than 2,534 unionists have been assassinated.1

President Alvaro Uribe was elected in 2002 and again in 2006 promising a crackdown on violence. His policies have resulted in a decrease in guerrilla violence, but there has been an increase in extrajudicial executions perpetrated by right-wing death squads and security forces.2 Assassinations of trade unionists have decreased, but so have prosecutions of the assassins. For the past two years, none of the killers of trade unionists has been brought to trial in Colombia (See Chart).

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Assassinations of Colombian unionists

Now, despite public outcry over these appalling human rights abuses and the firm opposition of U.S. and Colombian unions, the Bush administration is seeking to reward Uribe with a free-trade agreement.

Luciano Vasquez, Director General of the Escuela Nacional Sindical, addressed these issues at a Global Policy Network forum on Wednesday, February 27th. Listen to the conference and review related works on

1. The Escuela Nacional Sindical has documented 2,534 assassinations but says there are surely more that have not been reported.
2. Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) news release, October 18, 2007.

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