Former VP Santos and adviser charged with defamation of union leaders

Former Vice President Francisco Santos and former presidential adviser Jose Obdulio Gaviria are being sued by three trade unions over defamatory statements linking the unions to terrorism.

The case, to be heard in a Bogota court on Monday, goes back to July 2007 when union leaders attended the International Conference on “Problems of the Revolution in Latin America” in Quito, Ecuador. According to the complainant, following the conference, then Vice President Santos “categorically said that union leaders attending the forum had signed a document in support of terrorism, support for armed struggle, and then challenged the unions to explain to the country why they signed this document to support armed struggle in order to achieve power.”

Jose Obdulio Gaviria wrote an opinion column titled “All sin starts with thinking” where he made the same accusations against the unions stating “The episode of three Colombian union workers in Ecuador illustrates the type of enemies we have in our democracy.”

Several days later, one of the unions received death threats via email.

The unions’ lawyer Jorge Molano said that there is little chance for reconciliation, as Santos and Gaviria would not agree to a dialogue with the prosecution.

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