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Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists in Colombia 2009-2010 and 2002-2010


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Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists in Colombia 2009-2010 and 2002-2010

  1. 1. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 1 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos no. 22
  2. 2. Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists in Colombia 2009-2010 and 2002-2010 Researchers: Leidy Sanjuán (ENS) Guillermo Correa Montoya (ENS) José Luciano Sanín Vásquez (ENS) Lina Paola Malagón Díaz (CCJ) Pilar Peralta Díaz (CCJ) Harvey Rodríguez (CCJ) Colombia, October 2010
  3. 3. ESCUELA NACIONAL SINDICAL© ESCUELA NACIONAL SINDICAL, 2009Calle 51 Nº 55-78Tel: 513 31 00 Fax: 512 23 30Correo electrónico: Aéreo 12175Medellín, Colombia2010© COMISIÓN COLOMBIANA DE JURISTASCalle 72 Nº 12-65 piso 7Teléfono: (1) 7449333www.coljuristas.orgCorreo electrónico: asistentedireccion@coljuristas.orgBogotá-Colombia2010ISBN: 978-958-8207-53-7Photography “Salario”, Gerónimo Alberto Silva Lewis, Argentina, 2010 Financial support for the research and publication of this report was provided to the ENS by Holanda and to the CCJ by the European Union The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union, nor the European Union Delegation in Colombia and Ecuador, Misereor, or the FNV.
  4. 4. ContenidoIntroduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5Overview of Violations of the Right of Trade Unionists inColombia to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person in Colombia 7 High Levels of Violations Continue in 2010 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Violations of the Right of Trade Unionists in Colombia to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person During 2009 . . . . . . . . . . 8 Violations During the Eight Years of the Government of Álvaro Uribe Vélez. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Anti-Trade Union Violence: A Never-ending Story . . . . . . . . . 45 Murders of Trade Unionists Around the World During the Last 10 Years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 F. Lists of trade union murders in 2009 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Trade unionists murdered in 2010, to 30 August. . . . . . . . . . . 53Elevated Levels of Impunity for Crimes Against Trade Unionists . . 55 Continuing impunity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 The Measures Adopted by the State to Overcome Impunity have been Insufficient and Ineffective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
  5. 5. Introduction Over the last three years the Escuela Nacional Sindical (National TradeUnion School - ENS) and the Comisión Colombiana de Juristas (ColombianCommission of Jurists – CCJ) have been jointly monitoring the human rightssituation of trade unionists in Colombia and levels of impunity attached to thecrimes committed against them. This is the second joint report the two institutions have published. It ishoped that at the end of the year a further report will appear, providing aninterpretation, covering the period 1977 to the present, of the logic underlyingthe human rights violations and impunity that characterize trade union cases. These initiatives are intended to stimulate the establishment of policies tocombat the problem of serious human rights violations committed against thetrade union movement and the corresponding situation of impunity. We hopethat the report will help to shed light on this continuing calamity and contrib-ute to a public debate on effective ways to combat it. The ENS and the CCJhave played a very important role stimulating the interest of the internationalcommunity in the subject and in opening up the possibilities of developing anagenda capable of transforming the current situation. This report is published at a time when interests opposed to organizedlabor question both the statistics on anti trade union violence and the effectsof that violence on freedom of association in Colombia. Despite the current challenging context, the international communityand a range of Colombian and international human rights organizations havecontinued to speak out on the situation. In its observations on Convention
  6. 6. 87 the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Rec-ommendations (CEACR), the Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA),concerning Case 1787, and the Conference Committee on the Application ofStandards have all called on the Colombian state to guarantee that workers’organizations may “carry on their activities freely and meaningfully [...] in aclimate free from violence”.1 Recently, in its June 2010 report on Colombia, the Committee on Economic, Recently, in its June 2010 report on Colombia, the Committee on Economic,Social and Cultural Rights indicated that: The Committee is alarmed at the murders of trade-unionists in the State party and that they continue to be victims of various forms of threats and violence. The Committee remains concerned that, despite the implementation of a National Program of Protection that covers trade-unionists and the creation of sub-unit within the Human Rights Unit in the Attorney General’s Office to deal with murders against trade-unionists, only a small number of acts of violence against trade-unionists were investigated.2 The report has two chapters. The first provides an overview of violations ofthe right to life, liberty and security of the person of trade unionists in Colombiaduring the government of President Uribe (2002-2010). This chapter includesdata on 2009 and that part of 2010 for which figures are available. These periodsare analyzed in the context of a longer period running from 1986 to 2010. Thechapter also provides a summary of a separate study of trade union murdersat international level, in which the measures adopted by the Colombian stateto prevent such violations are evaluated. The second chapter deals with the serious situation of impunity, examin-ing the kinds of investigations carried out by the prosecuting authorities (theFiscalía General de La Nación) to identify the perpetrators of the crimes com-mitted against trade unionists, how the investigations are carried out and theresults achieved. It also examines the measures taken by the Colombian stateto combat the situation of impunity.1. CEACR, Individual Observation, Convention 87, in 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2002.2. E/C.12/COL/CO/5. Paragraph 12.
  7. 7. Overview of Violations of the Right of Trade Unionists in Colombia to Life,Liberty and Security of the Person in Colombia3 Violations of the Right of Trade Unionists to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person,High Levels of between 1 January and 30 August 2010*Violations Continue in Type of Violation Total20104 Threats 201 Murder 35 An examination of the information Murder attempt with or without injury 16on violence against trade unionists Harassment 10gathered between 1 January and 30 Kidnapping 5August 2010 demonstrate the con- Disappearance 5tinued violence against unionized Illegal Search 2 Arbitrary Detention 1workers in Colombia. In the first six Overall Total 275months of the year there were at least * 2010 figures are provisional, pending completion of data35 murders (10 of trade union leaders), collection and cross checking.and 17 murder attempts (14 against The preliminary data for 2010trade union leaders). illustrate a terrifying and dangerous scenario for those who choose to exer- cise their right to assume leadership in3. The information on violations of human the struggles of thousands of workers rights committed against trade unionists in Colombia have been collected and for a fairer and more equitable society analyzed by the ENS over a period of with guaranteed working conditions. more than 20 years, in close collaboration Incidents have occurred during this with the trade union organizations and period that have seriously limited and other human rights organizations. hindered efforts to promote freedom4. For this section the period of analysis has been extended to 30 August 2010. of association. 7
  8. 8. 8 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010) On Friday 13 August 2010, Luis asked for the workers José Luis SotoGermán Restrepo Maldonado, Presi- Jaramillo and Juan Carlos Torres Mu-dent of the Sindicato de Trabajadores ñoz, shouted, “Come out, we’re here tode la Compañía de Empaques (Sin- kill you. Don’t hide” before immedi-traempaques) and an important leader ately opening fire, wounding Miguelof the CGT in Antioquia, was mur- Augusto Cuenca Torregroza. The Sin-dered. The murder was particularly dicato Nacional de Trabajadores de laserious because it targeted a high Industria Agropecuaria (Sintrainagro)ranking trade union leader who had interpreted the event as a reprisal forbeen highly visible defending his its attempts to recruit large numberspolitical and trade union views on the of workers and the organization, sincenational and international stages. December 2009, of a series of actions Alejandrino Betancur, president protesting against unpaid wages andof the Sindicato de Trabajadores de benefits the workers were Industria Minera del Departamento These cases represent a call forde Antioquia (Sintramineros), Amagá the Colombian state to take effectivebranch, received death threats on 26 measures to protect the right to life,July 2010. An unknown individual liberty and security of person for itscalled his cell phone and threatened citizens and the unionized workforcehim concerning his attempts to resolve and to promote respect for the right ofa 13-year dispute with the company association in the country.Industrial Hullera, currently in liq-uidation. The activities in question Violations of the Rightinvolved the claim of more than 100 of Trade Unionistsformer mine workers who had still not in Colombia to Life,received the redundancy payments to Liberty and Securitywhich they were entitled. of the Person During On 11 January 2010, 185 workersat the Palo Alto estate in Ciénaga, 2009Magdalena Department, which be- Overall Characteristics of thelongs to Inversiones Palo Alto Gnecco ViolationsEspinosa, were expelled from their 2009 saw a wide-ranging debateworkplace at gunpoint, one worker involving the international communi-being injured in the process. The ty on the violation of human rights ingunmen, who had a list of names and Colombia. Four United Nations Spe-
  9. 9. cial Rapporteurs visited the country.5 rights defenders and communityIn their reports all coincided in ex- leaders”.6pressing concern at the worrying situ- The role of the Uribe Vélez gov-ation, in particular in relation to trade ernment did not in practice serveunionists. For example, concerning to guarantee human rights. On theextrajudicial executions committed by contrary, it adopted the strategy ofmembers of the Colombian army, the flatly denying the complex situationSpecial Rapporteur on extrajudicial affecting the right to life, liberty andexecutions said, security of the person of unionized “It should be noted at the outset workers, denying the existence of anthat killings by these actors dispro- armed conflict and of the continuingportionately affect rural and poor activities of paramilitary groups, de-populations, Indigenous people, Afro- scribing the extrajudicial executionColombians, trade unionists, human of trade unionists, journalists, and human rights defenders as isolated5. The report of the Special Rapporteur cases, pursuing high court judges, on the Situation of Human Rights and and questioning the legitimacy of the Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous activities of trade unionist victims. People may be consulted at: http://www2. In its anxiety to gain approval for the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) rapporteur/docs/A-HRC-15-34.doc; of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, with the US, Canada and the European Summary or Arbitrary Executions at: Union, the government has stubbornly refused to accept the statistics con- application/media/Colombia_Press_Sta- cerning anti- trade union violence, tement_English1.pdf (The full report in rather than adopting hard hitting English may be consulted at http://www. measures designed to overcome the media /14%20HRC%20Mission%20 problem. This attitude illustrates that to%20Colombia%20%28A.HRC.14.24. Add.2_en%29.pdf); of the Special Rap- porteur on the Situation of Human 6. Press release by Professor Philip Alston, Rights Defenders at: http://www2.ohchr. UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, org/english/issues/defenders/docs/A. Summary or Arbitrary Executions fo- HRC.13.22.Add.3_en.pdf ; and the Spe- llowing his Mission to Colombia between cial Rapporteur on the Independence of 8 and 18 June 2009. http://www.extraju- Judges and Lawyers at: http://www2.oh- Colombia_Press_Statement_English1. HRC.14.26.Add.2.pdf pdf 9
  10. 10. 10 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010)the government is more interested in bian media gave considerable cover-creating a positive international image age to declarations made by rankingthan working towards a real solution government officials concerning theto the problem. illegal phone tapping of political Initially, the administration opted opponents of the government, gov-to differentiate between murdered ernment employees, members of theunionized teachers and other work- high courts, the Vice President of theers, creating a parallel variable and, Republic and members of social or-with it, a distorted interpretation of ganizations. The organizations whosethe dimensions of the situation. This communications were interceptedmanipulation was widely criticized, included two trade union confedera-and the government changed its tions, the Central Unitaria de Traba-approach rapidly as a result. Sub- jadores (CUT) and the Confederaciónsequently, it decided on a strategy de Trabajadores de Colombia (CTC),involving attacks on the reputation of as well as the Sindicato Nacional detrade unionists. The strategy involved Trabajadores de la Salud y la Seguri-suggesting, for example, that victims dad Social (the main health servicehad been attacked because they were and social security union), and the Sin-connected with illegal armed groups, dicato de Trabajadores de la Empresainvolved in crimes of passion or were de Teléfonos de Bogotá (the unionmerely victims of common crime. of the Bogotá telecommunicationsOn other occasions the strategy has company).focused on NGOs, attacking the In 2009, legal processes coveredlegitimacy of their research, even, by Law 975 of 2005, which was in-at times, making use of unionized tended to demobilize the paramilitaryworkers belonging to political sec- groups and guarantee the rights oftors close to the government to front their victims, remained at a standstillthe questioning or denials. These and the paramilitary leaders who hadefforts to use discourse to cloak the been extradited to the United Statestruth about the human rights situa- in 2008 were still failing to providetion in Colombia were undermined information necessary to satisfy theby the highly questionable actions victims of the crimes they had com-of the government associated with mitted. Thus the right of the victimsthe scandals it became embroiled in. to truth, justice and reparation were Additionally, in May, the Colom- prejudiced. At the same time the
  11. 11. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 11organizations that the authorities in- threats, 10 forced displacements andsisted on naming “emerging groups” one murder attempt in which the vic-[bandas emergentes], but which were tims were trade fact nothing other than reorganizedgroups of paramilitaries, continued Violations during 2008 and 2009:harassing and pursuing the trade Statisticsunion movement. There was a slight decrease of The FARC and ELN, for their 6.2% in the total number of viola-part, continued committing serious tions committed against trade union-acts of violence against the civilian ists in 2009 compared with 2008.population, including the murder of Nevertheless, the Colombian union27 members of the Awa indigenous on movement continued its efforts to4 February 2009, and the kidnapping combat anti trade union violence andand subsequent murder, of the Gover- extermination attempts, primarily bynor of the Department of Caquetá, in denouncing the crimes, and seeking toDecember of the same year. These two advance debate nationally and inter-guerrilla groups were also responsible nationally, in both governmental andin 2009 for at least four murders, 11 non-governmental scenarios. Comparison of Violations of the Right of Trade Unionists to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person in Colombia between 1 January and 31 December 2008 and 2009 Nº of cases Nº of cases Type of Violation % 2008 % 2009 2008 2009Threats 498 65,3 419 58,6Forced Displacement 154 20,2 129 18,0Murder 49 6,4 47 6,6Harassment 19 2,5 54 7,6Arbitrary Detention 26 3,4 34 4,8Murder attempt with/without injury 8 1,0 18 2,5Torture 3 0,4 7 1,0Forced Disappearance 5 0,7 3 0,4Illegal Search 1 0,1 4 0,6Total 763 100,0 715 100,0Source: Banco de Datos de Derechos Humanos, SINDERH, ENS.
  12. 12. 12 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010) Given this panorama, it is impor- by the scant insistence with whichtant to stress that while it is true that their occurrence has been denounced:there was a slight decrease of two in there is a perceptible weariness amongthe number of murders, there were trade unions, as these kinds of experi-also 18 attempted murders in 2009 ence have come to be seen as a partcompared to eight the previous year, of the daily routine of their members.and that this represents an increase of Evidence of this is provided by the125%. In fact, the number of attempts difficulty encountered in finding in-at physical annihilation (murder plus formation in secondary sources overattempted murder) increased by 14%. the last year. Turning to the acts of violence that Thus it may be observed how antiincreased during 2009, the number trade union violence is based increas-of illegal searches increased from ingly on more diffused and complexone in 2008 to four in 2009 (75%), acts, which permit elaborate schemesharassment levels rose from 19 to 54 to be concocted, designed to spread(64.8%); cases of torture rose 57.1% confusion about events and diminishfrom four to seven; murder attempts their impact on public opinion; thishave already been mentioned; while is the case, for example, with illegalcases of arbitrary detention increased searches, harassment and arbitraryfrom 26 to 34 (23.5%). detentions. The violent acts that demonstrated During this period the increasea reduction were forced disappear- in the numbers of murders of tradeances, falling 66.7% (three in 2009 union leaders has been telling. Whilecompared with five the year before); in 2008, 16 trade union leaders werethreats fell from 498 to 419, a reduc- murdered; in 2009 the figure rosetion of 18.9%, while forced displace- to 21. This increase causes concern,ments fell from 154 to 129 (19.4%); above all because this kind of violencefinally, murders fell from 49 to 47, a does serious damage to individualpercentage reduction of 4.3%. trade unions and the union movement The reduction in reported threats alike.and displacements might be explained
  13. 13. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 13 Comparative table of murders of trade unionists between 1 January and 31 December 2008 and 2009, by category of worker Category of Worker 2008 % 2009 % TotalWorkforce 32 65.3 26 55.3 58Trade Union Leader 16 32.7 21 44.7 37Trade Union Advisor 1 2.0 0 0.0 1Overall Total g 49 100 47 100 96Source: Banco de Datos de Derechos Humanos, SINDERH, ENS.3 . Responsibility for Violations during 2009 Violations of the Right of Trade Unionists in Colombia to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person in Colombia between 1 January and 31 December 2009, by presumed perpetrator Presumed Perpetrator Total Unidentified 445 “Self-Defense Groups” and/or paramilitaries 163 State Body 59 Guerrilla group 26 Common crime 19 Employer 3 Overall Total 715 Source: Banco de Datos de Derechos Humanos, SINDERH, ENS. During 2009 there were 715 viola- responsible for 59 cases (22.3%);tions of the right of trade unionists to third were the guerrilla groups, withlife, liberty and security of the person 26 cases (9.6%), followed by commonin Colombia, of which the presumed criminals (19 cases, or 7% of the total);author of the crime has not been iden- the last category of perpetrators weretified in 445 cases (58%). That is, in employers, who were responsible formore than half the violations the per- three violent acts, (1.1%).petrator has not been identified. In 264 Threats were the principal tech-cases (36.9%) the presumed author nique of aggression employed by theof the crime has been identified, the paramilitary groups against trademost common being the paramilitary unionists. It is notorious, furthermore,groups who were responsible for 163 how the majority of these threats wereacts of violence (61.7% of the total); directed at the trade union second place were state bodies, Of the total number of threats carried
  14. 14. 14 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010)out by these groups (136), 106 (77.9%) tively, of the Asogras branch in Girón,sought to intimidate trade union lead- Department of Santander, received aers. telephone naming them as “military In general, these threats were objectives”. Evidence suggests that thehighly ideological in nature: accusing criminals belonged to the paramilitaryall trade unionists of being enemies of group operating in the town.peace, members of guerrilla groups In the same phone call Mabelor collaborators with them, they also Garcia’s sister was ordered to leave theemployed notably coarse language, in- Miradores de San Juan neighborhoodtended to undermine the dignity of the immediately. The callers added thatworkers and of the trade union move- they knew the daily routines of all herment. The threats were also couched family members and that they wouldin collective terms, the aggressors disappear her husband, as this is whatpurporting to defend the interests of would hurt her most. The caller alsosociety as a whole, of patriots and mentioned that he knew Juliana An-citizens. They were collective, also, drea García was pregnant and that itbecause at least 70 were aimed at would be “easy to hit her where it hurtsmembers of the same trade union, to most”. When it came to Félix Ortiz,several at once, or to a range of so- they said that they were “waiting forcial organizations including unions. him to give us an opportunity to disap-Furthermore, a considerable number pear him ... we’re just waiting for thereferred to aspects of the private lives time and place to do it”. Witnessesof their targets, such as their family suggest that the community fearedlives, domestic routines and arrange- the trade unionists might be attackedments, so that they could demonstrate in the Miradores de San Juan, wherewithout equivocation their capacity to it was well known as a center of op-pursue and harm their victims. erations for the paramilitaries known An emblematic example is pro- as the “Águilas Negras”. Asogras hasvided by the threats received by been subjected to constant pressures,members of the Asociación Agraria de threats, persecution and murder bySantander, Asogras, on the afternoon the paramilitary groups that operateof 28 July 2009. Félix Ortiz Amaya, in the Department of Santander andMabel García Mantilla and Juliana the Magdalena Medio region, espe-Andrea García Carrillo, president, cially in the municipality of Sabanavice-president and secretary, respec- de Torres.
  15. 15. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 15 For their part, state bodies were Moreno, Norberto Fernández, Trebe-principally responsible for arbitrary lio Guzmán, José Vicente Méndez,detentions or, in other words, the Albeiro Serna, Matha Cecilia Orozco,denial of liberty to trade unionists by Alcibiades Romero and Carlos Mén-state agents for reasons, and following dez Méndez were detained during aprocedures, which do not appear in joint operation carried out by soldiersthe penal code. This modus operandi from the national army and membersincludes detention without warrant, of the Cuerpo Técnico de Investig-when no crime has been committed, ación (the technical investigation bodyand detention that exceeds established of the Fiscalía - CTI). Witnesses saidremand limits or beyond the sentence that the detentions were carried outperiod. based on information from informants In 2009 state bodies were respon- who had received in- kind benefitssible for 33 arbitrary detentions, 10 and payments under the terms of thecases of harassment, six cases of tor- government’s Democratic Securityture, six threats, two murder attempts policy. It is evident that the stigma-and two illegal searches. tizing of human rights defenders and Between 13 and 16 July 2009, trade union leaders that characterizepeasants and leaders of different so- the prevailing anti-union climate hascial organizations including several a negative effect on the personal free-members of the Federación Nacional doms and constitutional guaranteesSindical Unitaria Agropecuaria (Fen- available to citizens as a whole.suagro) – including the Asociación de Another decidedly delicate matterTrabajadores Campesinos del Tolima concerned the arbitrary detention on(Astracatol), and the Sindicato de 5 May 2009 of three leaders of theTrabajadores Agrícolas del Tolima Asociación Colombiana de Cami-(Sintragritol) – were arbitrarily de- oneros while they were driving theirtained in the hamlet [corregimiento] lorries from Buenaventura to Cali inof Las Hermosas in the municipality order to take part in a national lorryof Chaparral, Department of Tolima. drivers’ strike. In this case, it is sig-Ever Quijano Capera, Jesús Emilio nificant that after the detention hadPortela García, Wilson Medina Arce, been denounced by Tarcisio Mora,Mauricio Collazos Peralta, Edwin National President of the CUT, theHumberto Medina Ríos, Walter Ro- national Police’s Director of Transitdríguez Bermeo, Jorge Enrique García and Transport, General Luis Alberto
  16. 16. 16 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010)Moore, indicated that the men had not been respected, we cannot allow thembeen detained but had accompanied to compel drivers to take part if theyhis officers voluntarily to the police do not wish to”. This case provokesstation:”an officer invited them to concern at how the authorities, andsign an agreement because they had in particular the security forces, treatbeen pressuring others to blockade the labor conflicts that occur in thethe port of Buenaventura”. General country as public order problems,Moore maintained too that the case putting at risk the effective exercise ofshowed that coercion was used against the right of association and freedomdrivers who wished to continue work- of ”while it is true that the strike has Comparative table of murders of trade unionists between 1 January and 31 December 2008 and 2009, by presumed perpetrator Presumed Perpetrator 2008 % 2009 % Total Unidentified 37 75.5 35 74.5 38 “Self-Defense Groups” and/or paramilitaries 5 10.2 7 14.9 5 State Body 6 12.2 0 0.0 6 Guerrilla group 0 0.0 4 8.5 0 Common crime 0 0.0 1 2.1 2 Employer 1 2,0 0 0,0 1 Overall Total 49 100 47 100 52Source: Banco de Datos de Derechos Humanos, SINDERH, ENS. An examination of the homicide were two more murders attributed tocases for 2009 demonstrates a high paramilitary groups, four by guerrillapercentage of murders (74.5%, or 35 groups and one by common criminals.cases), where the identity of the per- Additionally, while in 2008 six mur-petrator remains unknown. Of cases ders were attributed to state agentswhere information on the presumed and one to employers, the 2009 figuresauthor is available – 12 in total – seven were, respectively, zero and one.are alleged to have been commit- An analysis of the murders com-ted by paramilitary groups, four by mitted by paramilitary groups showsguerrilla groups, and one by common how their actions focused on the tradecriminals. union leadership: seven out of nine Compared to 2008, in 2009 there of their victims occupied leadership
  17. 17. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 17roles. paro armado7. The USO’s request was For their part, guerilla groups were discussed at a meeting involving theallegedly responsible for four murders, authorities (the army, the police andone of a leader of an agrarian trade the Departamento Administrativo deunion and three of workers, one of Seguridad - the State Security andwhom worked in agriculture, one in Intelligence Service, DAS), a repre-education and the last in the petroleum sentative of Occidental de Colombia’sindustry. This last victim was killed Social Responsibility department,in Arauquita (Arauca Department), on the company’s security team, the27 March 2009, during a confrontation Arauca Human Rights Ombudsmaninvolving the army in which work- and USO representatives. The militaryers of Occidental de Colombia were authorities said that they should notcaught in the crossfire. “give in to terrorism” and stated that This case provides an example “nothing was going on” in Araucaof the serious phenomenon whereby and that these were “isolated cases”.Colombian workers die when em- Consequently they suggested to thebroiled in the conflict affecting the USO and to the company that theycountry, despite the multiple efforts of should organize”military convoystheir organizations to work for peace. for the workers, to be accompaniedDays before the events, a lorry had by infantry soldiers, helicopters andbeen attacked, the driver escaping planes”. The proposal was acceptedunscathed. Subsequently, the buses by Occidental de Colombia, despitethat carried Occidental workers and the fact that the Human Rights Om-subcontractors were caught up in cross budsman argued that transport wasfire between guerrilla forces and the severely restricted by the paro in the Caricare and Caño Limón Occidental de Colombia respondedoil fields. The Union Sindical Obrera saying that they shared the analysis(USO), the oil workers’ union thatrepresents workers at the Occidentalinstallations known as Arauca Capital, 7. Translator’s Note: In a paro armado (lite- rally, an “armed strike”) guerrilla groupsdemanded that the company take mea- order transport companies not to operate,sures to minimize the risks workers thereby paralyzing commercial activity;run when travelling to work, and to individuals and companies who defy theprotect their right to life. At this point, order run the risk of their property beingthe guerrilla organization declared a destroyed and of being physically attac- ked.
  18. 18. 18 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010)of the military authorities and that the the USO should be agreed with theworkers should resume work; finally union and the petitioners. The unionthey asked the Ministry of Social also maintained permanent telephoneProtection to record the decision in contact with officials in the Humanan official minute. The Ministry pro- Rights Unit of the Vice-Presidency,ceeded to prepare a document laying warning of the possibility that one orthe groundwork for subsequent ac- more worker might be murdered orcusations that the union leaders and their personal integrity threatened.workers were inciting a strike. The Occidental and its contractors refusedUSO leadership requested the armed to accept the proposals of the unionforces to respect the principle of dis- in full, and, threatening disciplinarytinction, and the guerrilla organization proceedings and dismissal, pressuredthat had called the paro armado not the workforce into travelling to the oilto involve the workers in the armed field with military accompaniment.conflict. They then asked the Human On Saturday, and under pressure, theRights Ombudsman to provide hu- workforce went to work Caño Limónmanitarian accompaniment8 for the oil field. Finally, on 27 March, whileworkers and presented a contingency travelling in one of the military con-plan to the oil field manager, covering voys, and in the midst of crossfireboth permanent workers and contract between the army and the guerril-labor. The union based its proposal on las, the worker Armando Carreño, athe precautionary measures granted member of the Arauca section of theby the Inter American Commission of USO, was killed.Human Rights (IACHR) in 2001; theseinclude a stipulation that any measureintended to provide security, protec-tion or guarantees to the members of8. Translator’s Note: humanitarian ac- companiment is a technique used fairly frequently in Colombia; it involves high profile members of national and / or international bodies (in this case the Hu- man Rights Ombudsman) accompanying threatened groups or individuals in order to reduce the risk of their being attacked.
  19. 19. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 19Violations Committed against Women Comparative Table showing Violations Committed against Trade Unionists between 1 January and 31 December 2009, by sex Kind of Violation Female % Male % TotalThreats 106 58.6 313 58.6 419Forced Displacement 51 28.2 78 14.6 129Murder 4 2.2 50 9.4 54Harassment 5 2.8 42 7.9 47Arbitrary Detention 4 2.2 30 5.6 34Murder attempt with/without injury 7 3.9 11 2.1 18Torture 1 0.6 6 1.1 7Forced Disappearance 2 1.1 2 0.4 4Illegal Search 1 0.6 2 0.4 3Total general 181 100 534 100 715Source: Banco de Datos de Derechos Humanos, SINDERH, ENS. During 2009 women trade union- pality in Antioquia, a female tradeists represented 25.3% of the total union leader who was at the forefrontnumber of violations committed of a series of workers’ demands in theagainst unionized workers. During local hospital was the victim of anthe year they received 106 threats and attack using a sharp instrument.9 Thewere victims of 51 forced displace- complaints of the trade union concern-ments, seven murder attempts, five ing graft, corruption and workplacemurders and four cases of harassment. intimidation might be connected with Specifically, the violence com- a series of suspicious vehicle move-mitted against women trade union- ments in the neighborhood of the hos-ists was exacerbated by actions that pital. The leader survived the attackwent beyond the immediate attack, in question, but her assailants slashedseeking additionally to attack their her face, disfiguring her completely.personal dignity. Aspects such as The emotional damage caused bytheir looks, the protection of the fam- this attack cannot be overestimated.ily and motherhood (a state implying Additionally, as a result of the attackparticular vulnerability) were usedby the perpetrators of gender-based 9. The name of the victim, the union sheattacks to intimidate women. belonged to and the municipality where In November 2009, in a munici- she lived have been withheld for her pro- tection.
  20. 20. 20 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010)the victim was forcibly displaced, her In other cases women were tar-right to free association was violated geted because they were in relation-and her capacity to act freely as a ships with male trade unionists in-worker was restricted. volved in disputes. This was the case Other cases of violence against of de Jairo del Río, president of thewomen directly affect their families, Sindicato de Trabajadores de Tubosprincipally their children, who are del Caribe (Sintratucar) who, on 31forced into the conflict as a result. August 2009, received the followingOn 22 September 2009, María Alicia death threat from paramilitaries in theCabezas, a member of Sintraelecol in city of Cartagena:Arauca, received a telephone threat “Señor Jairo del río [sic], we hopeduring which she was warned that her that you are very clear about the objec-daughter would be harmed. tives of the trade union organization Similarly, Margarita López and you lead because you are getting inNelly Arias, leaders of Sintraacuvalle, above your head denouncing thingsreceived threats following the arrest you should leave alone. We remindof several former managers of the you that in this country communist guerrillas like you and your groupmunicipal water company Acuavalle die quickly, so stop fucking aroundfollowing complaints about alleged sticking your nose in things that don’tcorruption. An email which provoked matter. Let us remind you that youterror in its recipients announced that have a lovely family that you should“death would follow” and accused look after and that your pregnant wifethem of being informers or “grasses”. goes out every morning at five thirtyThe women had denounced the di- in the morning to take your son torector of Acuavalle for a company school, and it would be a great shameproposal, known as Oferta 026, to if something happened to them andcontract a foreign investor in 2010 to you were to blame. The guerillas inimplement its investment plan. In the this country are finished, especiallycontext of its actions to defend the guerrillas like you who dress up aspublic ownership of the company, the civilians. Look after yourself and lookproposal had created tension between after your loved ones”.the director and the union because of The following day, the vice presi-the criticisms the union made of the dent of the union, Deivis Blanco, re-interest payments that would have ceived a similar written threat, whichbeen paid to a third party. included a death threat.
  21. 21. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 21Sectors Affected Although anti trade union violence the economy it was most prevalent inin 2009 occurred in many sectors of education and agriculture. Violations 2009, by Economic Sector Economic Sector Total 2008 % Total 2009 %Community and personal services - education 446 58.2 413 57.8Agriculture, hunting and fishing 59 7.7 72 10.1Community and personal services – other services 45 5.9 66 9.2Manufacturing industry 56 7.3 40 5.6Electricity, gas and water 38 5.0 28 3.9Community and personal services - health 23 3.0 23 3.2Mining and quarrying 74 9.7 22 3.1Community and personal services-municipal and 16 2.1 18 2.5official employeesTransport, warehousing and communications 1 0.1 15 2.1Finance 2 0.3 13 1.8Community and personal services - legal 0 0.0 5 0.7Trade 5 0.7 0 0.0Construction 1 0.1 0 0.0Overall Total 766 100.0 715 100.0Source: Banco de Datos de Derechos Humanos, SINDERH, ENS and trade union federations. In 2009 the sector most affected by unionists in the sector were registered.anti-trade union violence was educa- In third place were the workers in thetion, with 413 violations (57.8% of the community and personal services sec-overall total for the year). This repre- tor, excluding education, health, legal,sented a reduction of 7.4% compared and municipal and official employees,with 2008, when a total of 446 viola- who suffered 66 violations during thetions of the right to the life, liberty and period, 46.7% more than the previoussecurity of person were committed year.against trade unionists in the sector. The mining and quarrying sec- The second most affected sector tor showed a marked decrease in thewas agriculture, hunting and fishing number of violations falling from 79with a total of 72 violations in 2009, in 2008 to 22 in 2009; there was also a22% more than occurred in 2008 decrease in the industrial manufactur-when 59 violations of the right to life, ing sector, with a fall of 28.6%, fromliberty and security of person of trade 56 to 40 violations, and in the electric-
  22. 22. 22 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010)ity, gas and water sectors, which fell of the multiple actors present. Of afrom 38 cases to 28. total of 34 arbitrary detentions regis- Nevertheless, there were sig- tered during 2009, 26 were committednificant increases in the transport, against agrarian workers.warehousing and communications Another significant violation in-sector, where there had been one volved harassment, a form of violencecase in 2008, rising to 15 in 2009, an that is less evident, as it is most com-increase of 1,400%, while violent acts mon in urban areas, especially in thein financial sector increased from two electricity, gas and water industries, inin 2008 to 13. Five cases affected the manufacturing, and among municipallegal sector in 2009 compared with and official employees.none in 2008. It should be noted that the educa- It is significant that arbitrary tion sector, as well as being the mostdetentions and illegal searches were affected by anti trade union violenceprincipally concentrated in the agrar- has also been the most active in termsian sector, where civil society respons- of social mobilization in the periodes to institutional abuses remain weak examined. According to the ENS dataand where, in contrast to the situation base on trade union activity, of the 103in urban areas where international actions registered in 2009, 21 (20.39%)institutions and the media are active, occurred in the education sector.there is little monitoring of the actions Labor Protests in 2009 by Economic Sector Sector Frequency Percentage Industry 26 25.2 Education 21 20.4 Health 18 17.5 Social Services 13 12.6 Pensioners 7 6.8 Communications 5 4.9 Judicial 4 3.9 Commerce 3 2.9 Miscellaneous* 6 5.8 Total 103 100.0 Source: Banco de Datos Dinámica Sindical, ENS. * Activities organized by a range of organizations belonging to different sectors.
  23. 23. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 23Trade Unions Most Affected during 2009 and 2010 Violations against the Right of Trade Unionists to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person, 2009, Trade Union Cases % Adida 246 42.6 Sintraunicol 54 9.4 CUT 45 7.8 Fensuagro 45 7.8 Educal 43 7.5 Sinaltrainal 28 4.9 Sintraemsdes 22 3.8 USO 16 2.8 Anthoc 15 2.6 Asogras 13 2.3 Umach 13 2.3 UNEB 12 2.1 SER 10 1.7 Sindesena 8 1.4 Sindess 7 1.2 Total 577 100.0 Source: Banco de Datos de Derechos Humanos, SINDERH, ENS and trade union federations. In 2009, 80.7% of anti trade union influence debate on public education,violence was directed against 15 health, oil production, the financialunions, each of which was known for sector, multinational corporations andits capacity to mobilize opinion and labor issues in general in the country.
  24. 24. 24 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010) Violations of the Right of Trade Unionists in Colombia to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person in 2010, by union Union Cases % Adida 46 22.9 SER 46 22.9 CUT 23 11.4 Sindesena 14 7.0 USO 10 5.0 Sintraunicol 10 5.0 Fensuagro 9 4.5 Anthoc 8 4.0 Simana 8 4.0 Astdemp 6 3.0 Ademacor 5 2.5 Asogras 4 2.0 Asoinca 4 2.0 Sintramienergetica 4 2.0 UNEB 4 2.0 Total 201* 100.0 * It is not yet possible to compare the figures for 2010 with 2009 which remain pro- visional because the methodology has not been applied systematically to the 2010. For those trade unions most affect- tor that is victim of the highest numbered by violence, the panorama in 2010 of attacks. Six of the 15 unions thathas not changed much compared with have suffered most attacks belong to2009. The tendencies remain similar, the sector, an aspect that is consistentwhich I unsurprising given that the with the high levels of mobilizationprincipal problems affecting the sec- and activism of teachers comparedtors in question remain constant too. with other sectors. Once again, it is the education sec-
  25. 25. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 25The Geography of Violations in 2009 and 2010 Violations of the Right of Trade Unionists in Colombia to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person in 2010, by department Department 2009 % Antioquia 267 37.3 Valle 86 12.0 Santander 85 11.9 Caldas 47 6.6 Atlántico 41 5.7 Cauca 25 3.5 Tolima 25 3.5 Bogotá D.C. 21 2.9 Bolívar 17 2.4 Chocó 16 2.2 Risaralda 15 2.1 Arauca 14 2.0 Cesar 11 1.5 Córdoba 8 1.1 Magdalena 8 1.1 Meta 8 1.1 Huila 5 0.7 Norte de Santander 5 0.7 Quindío 4 0.6 Cundinamarca 2 0.3 Popayán 2 0.3 Caquetá 1 0.1 Guajira 1 0.1 Putumayo 1 0.1 Total 715 100.0 As has consistently been the case of trade unionists to life, liberty andhistorically, in 2009 the departments security of the person were Antioquia,most affected by violations of the right Valle and Santander.
  26. 26. 26 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010) Violations of the Right of Trade Unionists in Colombia to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person between January 1 and August 30 2010, by Department Department 2010 % Antioquia 68 24.7 Risaralda 48 17.5 Valle 34 12.4 Santander 23 8.4 Caldas 20 7.3 Cauca 15 5.5 Bogotá D.E. 11 4.0 Nariño 9 3.3 Arauca 8 2.9 Atlántico 6 2.2 Bolívar 6 2.2 Meta 5 1.8 Magdalena 5 1.8 Córdoba 5 1.8 Tolima 3 1.1 Cesar 2 0.7 Quindío 2 0.7 Norte de Santander 1 0.4 Sucre 1 0.4 Caquetá 1 0.4 Amazonas 1 0.4 Cundinamarca 1 0.4 Total 275 100 * It is not yet possible to compare the figures for 2010 with 2009 which remain provisional because the methodology has not been applied systematically to the 2010 figures. The figures may rise once data collection and analysis is complete. For 2010, the information cur- creased in departments like Risaralda.rently available demonstrates that, This phenomenon raises the possibil-while Antioquia, Valle and Santander ity that anti trade union activity isremain in first place, incidents have in- extending across the country.
  27. 27. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 27Selected Cases of Murder, quests for negotiation that had beenAttempted Murder and postponed on several occasions.Disappearances On 21 August 2009, a group of The following section provides unidentified individuals arrived atdetails of just some of a long list of the residence of Gustavo Gómez,violations of the right of trade union- a worker at Nestlé-Comestibles Laists in Colombia to life, liberty and Rosa S.A., and member of the Sindi-security of the person during 2009. cato Nacional de Trabajadores de la On 4 April 2009, Hernán Polo Bar- Industria de Alimentos (Sinaltrainal)rera, a leader of the Sindicato de Tra- in the municipality of Dosquebradas.bajadores and Empleados de la Edu- They knocked on the front door andcación (Sintrenal), was murdered close when Gómez opened it the individu-to his home in the city of Montería, in als opened fire, hitting him ten times.front of his family. He was carrying He was transferred to a clinic wherehis granddaughter in his arms and was he died several hours later. The crimeaccompanied by his sixteen year-old coincided with a set of demands thedaughter who was injured in the at- union had presented to Nestlé Purinatack. Two weeks before his death, Polo Pet Care de Colombia S.A.. GómezBarrera had led a series of actions by was a member of the branch com-administrative workers in the educa- mittee of the Dosquebradas branchtion sector in Montería demanding of Sinaltrainal between 1997 andthe payment of salary increases owed 2000. He was the first cousin of Joséthem by the state. de Jesús Marín Vargas, a worker at On 9 May 2009, Vilma Carcamo Nestlé-Comestibles La Rosa S.A.,Blanco, an odontologist and member and member of Sinaltrainal, himselfof the national committee of the Aso- murdered on 22 November 2007 alsociación Nacional Sindical de Traba- in Dosquebradas. This murder bringsjadores and Servidores Públicos de to 12 the number of Nestlé workers,la Salud, Seguridad Social Integral members of Sinaltrainal, who havey Servicios Complementarios de Co- been murdered in Colombia.lombia (Anthoc) in Magangué, was Abel Carrasquilla was murderedmurdered. Vilma had led a series on 23 August 2009, according to wit-of protests to demand the payment nesses by members of the paramilitaryof back salaries and to continue to group known as “Los Rastrojos”. Therequest negotiation of a series of re- events occurred following Carrasquil-
  28. 28. 28 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010)la’s efforts to recruit new members in stricting and impeding the exercise ofthe workplace, efforts that had already trade union freedoms and, additional-resulted in warnings that he cease ly, of encouraging the development anthese activities. anti-trade union culture that accused On 24 November, Luis Javier Cor- the unions of causing companies andrea Suárez, president of Sinaltrainal, public institutions to fail, threateningreceived death threats on a cell phone public order, and of working in favorthat had been assigned him under of the subversive groups, labelingthe protection program run by the them as terrorists (a term that gainedMinistry of the Interior and Justice. currency internationally in the wakeHe received further threats, by phone of 11 September 2001), and in par-and fax, just a few days after the Inter ticular, accusing them of being an ob-American Commission of Human stacle to development and restrictingRights had announced its decision to job creation. As a result, trade unionincrease the precautionary measures freedoms have been restricted and thealready granted to the members of responsibility of state agents in theSinaltrainal, and during a dispute violation of the human rights of tradeinvolving workers at Industria Nacio- unionists has increased.nal de Gaseosas S.A. (Coca-Cola), a Despite the promises of the Uribecompany which has refused to sign a government to destroy the guerrillacollective bargaining agreement, even groups and to demobilize the para-though it had agreed a negotiating militaries, the conflict has continuedagenda presented by the union. and the likelihood that the rights of workers would be guaranteed hasViolations During the fallen. Given this context, violationsEight Years of the of the rights of unionized workersGovernment of Álvaro have come to appear normal, because the prevailing logic of DemocraticUribe Vélez Security has associated them with the armed conflict.Unchanged Realities during EightYears of Democratic Security The two periods of most intense Democratic Security, the trade- violence against trade unionists oc-mark policy of the Álvaro Uribe Vélez curred between 1996 and 1997 andgovernment, included measures that 2000 and 2002 during the govern-had the effect, in many cases, of re- ments, respectively, of Álvaro Uribe’s
  29. 29. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 29predecessors as president, Ernesto and unionized teachers increased, andSamper and Andrés Pastrana. During the percentage of state responsibilitythe Uribe government the problem for the overall number of violationswas mutable. While the number of has grown compared both to 1996murders decreased, the level of viola- and 2002.tions of the rights of female unionists Violations of the Right of Trade Unionists in Colombia to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person by Administration Government of Government of Government of Kind of Violation Andrés Pastrana Álvaro Uribe Álvaro Uribe Overall Total 1998-2002 2002-2006 2006-20101*Threats 1,272 1,298 1,215 3,785Murder 580 362 166 1,108Forced Displacement 264 146 388 798Arbitrary Detention 209 206 89 504Harassment 57 138 93 288Murder attempt with/ 70 43 40 153without injuryKidnapping 108 29 0 137Forced Disappearance 46 22 11 79Illegal Search 3 17 10 30Torture 4 8 12 24Murder of Family 1 0 0 1Member Overall Total 2,614 2,269 2,024 6,907Source: Banco de Datos de Derechos Humanos, SINDERH, ENS and trade union federations. A comparison of the presidential widely publicized achievements inperiods of Álvaro Uribe and Andrés the protection of the rights of tradePastrana shows that violations of the unionists were not reflected in changeshuman rights of trade unionists fell to the underlying structure of the vio-by 15.2% under Uribe. However, the lence perpetrated against them.
  30. 30. 30 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010) Violations of the Right of Trade Unionists in Colombia to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person during the Government of Uribe Vélez Kind of Violation 2002-2006 2006-2010 Total Threats 1.298 1.348 2.646 Murder 362 203 565 Forced Displacement 146 388 534 Arbitrary Detention 206 89 295 Harassment 138 97 235 Murder attempt with/without injury 43 53 96 Kidnapping 29 0 29 Forced Disappearance 22 14 36 Illegal Search 17 10 27 Torture 8 12 20 Total 2.269 2.214 4.483 Source: Banco de Datos de Derechos Humanos, SINDERH, ENS.Measures adopted by the clear message at the highest level ofUribe Vélez Government that the important role played in societyEncouraged Violations against by trade unions”.Trade Unionists b . DAS Program to Eliminate a . Stigmatization of the trade Trade Unionists . The Committee onunion movement by high ranking Freedom of Association referred tomembers of government. The Uribe the serious violations committed byVélez government facilitated and the DAS, indicating that:fomented anti-trade union violence “The Committee observes that theby frequently stigmatizing the ac- allegations of presumed connivancetivities of trade unionists in Colombia. between a state body responsible forThroughout the period of government, protecting trade unionists and groupsthe President, high ranking govern- operating outside the law, are extremelyment servants and military officials serious, as such a situation can seriously undermine the credibility of the Govern-frequently, and publicly, questioned ment’s determination to combat violencethe legitimacy of trade union activi- and impunity”.10ties. The government decided not to With the designation of Jorge Au-comply with the 2009 recommenda- relio Noguera Cotes as Director of thetion of the Committee on the Applica-tion of Standards, which called on the 10. Report 356, Case 1787, March 2010,Colombian authorities to transmit “a paragraph 563.
  31. 31. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 31DAS in September 2002 (the Uribe ing, promoting, financing and devel-government having been inaugurated oping joint activities with paramilitaryon 7 August 2002), a criminal struc- groups and placing the DAS at the ser-ture was established within it, which vice of these illegal groups and otherutilized the machinery of the state narcotics traffickers; of homicidioto develop paramilitary structures, agravado [first degree murder] of theaccording to the justification that human rights defender Alfredo Correathey were acting to wage a supposed D’Andreis, the trade unionists: Zully“counterinsurgency war”, that is, car- Esther Codina and Adán Pacheco,rying out military actions against the and of the politician and sociologistguerrilla groups, though in reality the Fernando Pisciotti Van Strahlen. Hepolicy led to the criminal persecu- is also accused of the offenses oftion of the civilian population. It has violating legal reserve by providingemerged as part of ongoing legal pro- intelligence information to para-ceedings that Jorge Noguera named military groups; of the destruction,individuals who were necessary to suppression or concealment of publicfurthering his criminal activities in documents, by destroying evidencekey positions in the DAS, the major- related to paramilitaries and narcoticsity of whom were answerable to him traffickers; and of arbitrary and unfairin his capacity as Director of the in- abuse of authority in as much as hestitution. These included people who fired numerous DAS officials whohelped to finance the paramilitaries: it were acting to combat paramilitarism.has been demonstrated that Noguera Jorge Noguera is one of a grouphad promised that a commission of of politicians and public figures ac-between 5% and 10% would be lev- cused by the justice system of pro-ied on each contract celebrated by moting and encouraging paramili-the DAS and the amount paid to the tarism in Colombia . Thus, a seriesBloque Norte (Northern Bloc) of the of investigations involving numerousparamilitaries. witnesses have confirmed the crimi- Currently, Noguera is before the nal responsibility of Noguera Cotes,Supreme Court of Justice facing and also of Rafael García, the formercharges of concierto para delinquir head of IT at the DAS, whose criminalagravado [aggravated conspiracy to activities have been demonstrated incommit a criminal act] in as much as testimonies and documents occupyinghe is accused of initiating, encourag- more than 50,000 pages, that confirm
  32. 32. 32 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010)the criminal responsibility of Noguera evidence for use in legal processesfor the crimes for which he is under against them, and v) carrying out “of-investigation. fensive intelligence”, that is, directly Currently, the paramilitary leaders threatening and harassing trade unionmost implicated in these crimes have leaders, human rights defenders, mag-been detained on charges of concierto istrates of the high courts, journalists,para delinquir agravado, while oth- and opposition political leaders.ers, such as the paramilitary leader i) Passing lists of trade unionistsRodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias Jorge 40, targeted for murder to paramilitaries.have been extradited to the United During the hearings, DAS officialsStates. The Fiscalía has, furthermore, recognized that trade unionists andcertified documents to be used in human rights defenders had been thecriminal investigations involving subjects of “intelligence activities”other paramilitaries. intended to gather information for In recent months it has proved pos- inclusion in the DAS data bases. In-sible to establish the way in which the formation was subsequently extractedDAS was used to attack the legitimate from the data bases and included inactivities of trade unions in Colom- lists that Noguera handed over to thebia. The violations committed by paramilitaries.the DAS, involved: i) passing lists of The most important witness in thistrade unionists targeted for murder to case, the former IT Director Rafaelparamilitaries, ii) illegal interception García Torres, provided the namesof communications involving trade of victims and of the contacts whounion leaders, grass roots members, maintained communication betweenhuman rights defenders, magistrates the paramilitary blocs and high levelof the high courts, journalists and DAS employees. His testimony co-opposition political leaders, iii) orga- incided with that of at least six othernizing break-ins at trade union offices witnesses: two army colonels, Condeto steal documentation for use in intel- Rubio and Pardo Ariza; two DASligence purposes, iv) employing DAS officials, Rodolfo Benítez and Davidagents responsible for the protection Rivero; and two paramilitary leaders:schemes of trade unionists and oth- Mancuso and alias Don Antonio.ers to gather information and use it to The ENS and the CCJ have beenharass the people they were assigned able to establish that, of the individu-to protect and, even, to generate false als named in the list, seven were sub-
  33. 33. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 33sequently murdered, one, allegedly, One person on the list was forc-by the paramilitary group the Auto- ibly disappeared by an unidentifieddefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) armed group; seven were arbitrarilyand two by unidentified paramilitary detained by state agents; six weregroups. The other four were murdered victims of death threats; two survivedby unidentified armed groups. The assassination attempts - one of whichvictims were: César Augusto Fonseca was allegedly committed by the AUCMorales, José Rafael Fonseca Cas- and another by an unidentified armedsiani, José Ramón Fonseca Cassiani, group; a further two were forced toAlfredo Correa de Andreis, Zully flee their homes, one of whom hasEsther Codina Pérez, Saúl Alberto gone into exile.Colpas Castro and José María Mal-donado. Name Violation Víctor Manuel Jiménez Fruto Forced disappearance José Piñeros Arbitrary detention Carmelo Piñeros Arbitrary detention Alfonso Piñeros Arbitrary detention Alberto Acosta Arbitrary detention Argelio Contreras Arbitrary detention Alfredo Oviedo Arbitrary detention Ney Medrano Arbitrary detention Ángel Salas Threat Gilberto Martínez Threat Álvaro Londoño Cardona Threat José Meriño Threat Álvaro Márquez Threat Carmen Torres Threat Nicolás Hernández Cabrera Assassination attempt Miguel Ángel Bobadilla Assassination attempt Zunilda Colpas Forced displacement Álvaro Londoño Forced displacement
  34. 34. 34 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010) Senior DAS officials handed over a part of a wider plan to exterminatelists to Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias trade unionists and opposition leadersJorge 40, containing names includ- that was carried out by paramilitarying those of Professor Alfredo Correa groups and by their members whoD’Andreis, a social activist and mem- operated within the DAS.ber of the teaching union ASPU; the The process demonstrated that,journalist and trade union leader in the in the case of Professor Correahealth sector Zully Codina; and the D’Andreis, the DAS compiled falseliberal politician and sociologist Fer- intelligence reports and manipulatingnando Pisciotti Van Strahlen, who, ac- the testimony of demobilized fight-cording to the recognized paramilitary ers who were in reality working forEdgar Ignacio Fierro Flórez, alias Don the paramilitaries or acting as falseAntonio, in his preliminary testimony witnesses; and that these intelligenceunder the Justice and Peace process, reports were used to establish falsewere murdered by the Northern Bloc charges against him, of which he wasof the AUC.. subsequently absolved. Following the In these reports, which were failure of the attempt to frame Correauncovered in the DAS archives, D’Andreis, Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aliasmembers of the union Anthoc, the Jorge 40, and Edgar Ignacio FierroCUT-Bolívar, the USO and other Flórez, alias Don Antonio, proceededlocal organizations were also men- to murder him; the same proceduretioned, this practice was the initial was used against other trade unionphase of the dirty war. In summary, leaders.Alfredo Correa D’Andreis, Zully During the legal examinationCodina and Fernando Pisciotti, like of the documentation, it was foundmany others, were victims of counter- that intelligence material had beeninsurgency strategies that were based compiled on the murdered victims,on the theory of the “enemy within” evidence that suggests that intelli-and formed part of a “political war” gence activities had been carried outwaged against social and trade union before they were killed. During crossorganizations (labeled the frente so- examination some of the former DASciolaboral or “social and labor front”). officials stated that the informationThe strategy was implemented by the on trade unionists in the archives wasstate apparatus, directly controlled related to public order matters and thatby Jorge Noguera Cotes, and formed it was routine to gather such informa-
  35. 35. Violaciones a Impunity and the Violation of the Human Rights of Trade Unionists 35tion, but that it was compiled using DAS created a “strategic and offensivesources available in the public sphere, intelligence group” known as G3, outthat is using news sources and legally of which the officials carried out theiravailable information. But other for- illegal activities between 2004 andmer officials accepted the existence of 2008.12orders to carry out field-based activi- The investigations of the Fiscalíaties to verify the information; in our into the activities of the DAS uncov-opinion, these constituted infiltrations ered information on the monitoringof trade union protests and other union of internal communications of tradeactivities by DAS secret agents. union organizations including the ii) Illegal interception of com- CUT and the Confederación de Tra-munications and surveillance of tar- bajadores de Colombia (CTC), as wellgets . The charges formulated against as, among others, Anthoc, the Sindi-the former officials of the DAS by the cato de Trabajadores de la EmpresaFiscalía accused them of carrying out, de Teléfonos de Bogotá and Asonalas a part of their regular functions, Judicial.13acts of surveillance and intercepting The former DAS officials alsothe communications of trade union recognized that these illegal activitiesleaders, grass roots members, human had taken place. During one of therights defenders, magistrates of the hearings, Jorge Alberto Lagos, for-high courts, journalists and opposition mer director of Counter-Intelligencepolitical leaders. These activities also at the DAS confirmed that “what weinvolved the gathering of personal did find were intelligence activitiesdata (habits, weaknesses, strengths, including the targeting of governmentproperty and, even, the names of employees and the surveillance andschools attended by their children, harassment of trade unionists”.14or home addresses). The surveillance iii) Organizing break-ins atalso involved the illegal inspection ofbank accounts, financial transactions 12. February 22, 2010, well as the organization of smear com 13. “Hasta familiares de magistrados tuvie-campaigns targeting the victims.11 ron seguimiento del DAS”. DocumentThe Fiscalía demonstrated that the published by Equipo Nizkor, 28 April 2009, www.derechos.org11. “Se cierra el círculo”, Semana, mayo de 14. “Lo que se hacía en el DAS según sus 2010. protagonistas”, http://www.lasillavacia. nacion/cierra-circulo/138929.aspx com/historia/6854.
  36. 36. 36 Cuaderno de Derechos Humanos Nº 22 – Escuela Nacional Sindical (2010)trade union offices to steal docu- de Cartagena SINCONTAXCAR andmentation for use in intelligence Jorge Ortega Hernández, President ofpurposes . It is also apparent that the Bolívar sub-branch of the USO.the G3 developed a further strategy According to these people the meet-involving the theft of information ings were held in order to analyzefrom human rights defenders, trade the principal human rights violationsunionists and their organizations. An in the Department of Bolívar causedexample of the practice was provided by the policies implemented by theby a revision made by the Fiscalía of government of President ALVAROthe DAS archive in Bogotá, which URIBE, as well as other persecutionsuncovered a document known as carried out against trade union and“Cartagena de Indias”, in which it is civic leaders, administrative corrup-clear that the DAS ordered agents to tion, and the decentralization andinfiltrate a meeting of the CUT in the winding-up of state bodies, in orderDepartment of Bolívar; it mentions the to inform the ILO about this difficultfollowing events that occurred during situation and take advantage of theirthe meeting: good relations with the Asturian Hu- “In early May 2005 in the Salón man Rights Commission in Spain andCoral at the Centro Recreacional the work of the Colombian journalistComfenalco in the Crespo neighbor- Claudia Julieta Duque Orrego, who ishood, several meetings were orga- included in Amnesty International’snized by the Bolívar sub-branch of the protection program”.CUT, with the participation of Luis It goes on to say,Alberto Mendoza Periñán, President “They claimed that between 2003of the CUT, Rubén Castro Quintana, and 2004 more than 700 trade unionPresident of the Sindicato de Tra- members, including leading membersbajadores de las Electrificadoras de of society such as Amaury PadillaColombia, Luis Carlos Sources Pérez, Cabarcas, ex employees of Depart-President of the Sindicato Único mental government of Bolívar; thede Educadores de Bolívar SUDEB, university teacher Dr. Alfredo CorreaCarlos Carrascal Figueroa, President De Andreis, the civic leader Románof the Liga de Usuarios de Servicios Torres, Rafael Augusto PalenciaPúblicos Domiciliarios USPD, Este- Fernández, who works for the Minis-ban Barbosa Palencia, President of try of Labor, the civic leader Rufinothe Sindicato de Conductores de Taxis Pájaro Guardo and Álvaro Rodríguez,