Yesterday, just a week before a scheduled debate in the Colombian Congress on the murder of and threats against trade union leaders, our colleagues in SINTRAVIESCOLS in Colombia received further death threats.
A letter signed by the paramilitary group Gaitanistas Self-Defence of Colombia warned that Jaime Cárdenas, Carlos Zuñiga, Eduard Lenis and John Paz, members of the SINTRAVIESCOLS executive, and Senator Alexander López who provided thee union with a venue for its assembly, should leave the city of Cali “within 24 hours” and that “the order to kill them has now been given”.
This is the fifth threat against Jaime Cárdenas, national president of SINTRAVIESCOLS, and the fourth against his colleagues. Brother Cárdenas has said that he fears for his life and that of his family, as past experience has shown that there is no response from the government, which has led to the death of community and trade union leaders.
UNI Americas sent a letter to President Iván Duque urging him not only to guarantee the protection of the Colombian population through effective security mechanisms but also to find those responsible for such threats and thus bring them to justice. Furthermore as a new member of the OECD, Colombia should establish as a priority the full exercise of trade union activity and safeguard the human rights of its population.
UNI Global Union and its 20 million affiliates express their solidarity with those who have to cope with such threats against themselves, their families and those close to them in Colombia and with those who fear to return home simply because they are defending their rights.
UNI, together with the international community, will keep a close watch on this situation and remind the Colombian authorities of their responsibility to guarantee the security of the threatened leaders, prevent further threats and bring those responsible to justice.