Colombia’s Confederation of Workers (CUT) on Thursday reported that the number of trade unionists who have been murdered in 2010 has risen to 38.
According to a CUT report, in the first three months of the Santos government four trade unionist leaders have been killed and one disappeared. Three of these murders took place in the last two weeks.
Director of the CUT’s human rights department, Luis Alberto Vanegas, said that Santos “has made many promises, but trade unionists continue to be killed.”
Vanegas asked for a “change in style on the part of the state” since unions are victims of a “violent anti-trade union culture of businessmen with the support of agents of the state.” He said that the majority of the crimes occur due to “businessmen supported by paramilitary groups.”
The CUT reported that 2,800 trade unionist have been murdered and 190 have disappeared in Colombia since 1989, and 98% of these cases remain unpunished.
According to Vanegas, in 1973 around 11% of the workers were part of trade unions, whereas the current figure is less than 4.5%.
Murders of Colombian unionists were up in the first nine months of the year, with 36 compared to 26 in the same period in 2009, according to the CUT.
The Santos government has promised to improve relations with the country’s trade unions and strengthen efforts to fight impunity for killers of unionists and human rights activists, with regular round table talks between the government, unions and judicial authorities.