The Colombian government admits that criminal groups that emerged from demobilized paramilitary organization AUC are threatening labor unionists and citizens helping the government to return land stolen by the AUC.
According to Radio Caracol, Interior and Justice Minister German Vargas Lleras told that security agencies detected “specific action” to attack labor unions. Without referring to suspected perpetrators, the minister said that local union leaders are already being attacked. “This corresponds to a well-oriented action to attack the unions,” the Minister told the radio station.
“When you attack the bases of the organizations it affects union activity and it is very difficult to act,” Vargas Lleras added.
According to Eduardo Pizarro, director of the government Reparation and Reconciliation Commission, neo-paramilitary groups are behind recent attacks on community leaders who cooperate with the government to return stolen land to farmers.
Pizarro said that neo-paramilitary groups Erpac, Urabeños, Paisas, Rastrojos, Los Machos and Renacer are behind the attacks on community leaders who are cooperating with the government that was stolen by AUC militias before its demobilization earlier this century.
“We have identified groups that again are forcing displacement in the regions that have become drug routes and are the area where these gangs are at war,” the government official said.
The Commission asked to guarantee security in the regions before beginning the process of reparation to paramilitary victims.
After its inauguration in August, the Government of Juan Manuel Santos vowed to improve the situation of unionists in Colombia that is infamous for the murder of labor rights activists. Santos also promised to speed up the process of returning land that was stolen by the AUC to its rightful owners.