Colombian labor unions began a lobby in Washington Monday to oppose the possible appointment of Colombian vice-President Angelino Garzon as new head of the International Labour Organisation.
According to the unions, Garzon — humself a former unionist — is unfit to lead the United Nations body because of Colombia’s record regarding labor rights and the ongoing violence against unionists.
The unions were joined by the vice-president of Colombia’s Senate, the socialist Alexander Lopez, who told Caracol Radio that the Colombians had met with advisers to U.S. congressmen, human rights organizations and U.S. labor union representatives.
The senator stressed that the lobby is not to discredit Garzon personally, but to protest against the government policy to internationally conceal the reality of workers.
Lopez claimed that, because of its infamous record regarding labor union violence, Colombia lacks the “moral authority” to lead the ILO.
For decades Colombia has been among the most dangerous places in the world to be a trade unionist — 2010 was the first time it was not included on the ILO blacklist for countries which fail to comply with international working conditions.
A oil unionist and his wife were killed in front of their children in central Colombia last week. International NGO Human Rights Watch highlighted the ongoing murder of trade unionists in an open letter to Garzon prior to his visit to Washington in January.