Recent bombings that targeted Colombian unions resulted in US congressmen sending a letter to Colombia president Juan Manuel Santos urging him to protect workers’ rights.
The letter was sent on Thursday and signed by seven democratic representatives, who are part of the Congressional Monitoring Group on Labor Rights in Colombia (CMG).
The CMG is part of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement’s provisions to protect worker’s rights. Colombia and the US developed the Labor Action Plan parallel with the FTA to improve Colombia’s labor rights record and make sure the FTA wouldn’t aggravate violations.
|“Union members had been the repeated targets of paramilitary anti-labor violence, which included the forced exile of 15, murder of 8 and threats against more than 100 union members.” Committee letter|
The representatives in the letter recognized that there have been improvements in the security and protection of labor groups, but continue to stress the need to strengthen Colombia’s National Protection Unit, the unit in charge of providing security to high-risk individuals and groups, to decrease the ongoing violence against labor leaders and unions.
Recent fire-bombings of labor union headquarters in Cali were cited as the main reason for concern. On April 16, 2014, the headquarters of public sector union, SINTRAEMCALI was firebombed in Colombia’s third biggest city, Cali.
“As you know, in the past, this union was also the focus of “Operation Dragon” – an assassination plot involving former members of the armed forces against a long list of labor rights activists, including the former President of Sintraemcali and now Senator Alexander Lopez-Maya and prominent human rights defender Berenice Celeyta, the Robert F. Kennedy laureate for Colombia,” said the members of congress in the letter.
In August of 2013, the congressional monitoring group visited Colombia and met with labor unions.
- Press Release Democratic Committee on Education & Workforce (US Congress)