The international president of the United Steelworkers Union writes an open letter to top United States officials, including Hillary Clinton, asking for protection for a Colombian trade union leader.
In particular Gerard referred to the attack on the family of Juan Carlos Galvis, an executive committee member of the Sinaltrainal workers union, which took place on November 9.
Gerard requested that the government officials “call on the Colombian government to take all measures to protect the life and well-being of Mr Galvis,” and to investigate the crime and punish those responsible.
The crime refers to an attack on Galvis’ family that took place on November 9 at his home.
According to Colombian newspaper La Vanguardia, two people dressed in black and wearing helmets entered the house of Galvis in Barrancabermeja in the department of Santander a few minutes after 9PM, when Galvis was not at his home.
The assailants threatened one of Galvis’ daughters with a gun, bound and gagged another daughter while Galvis’ wife, member of the Popular Women’s Organization, Yaqueline Rojas was bound, gagged and sprayed with red paint while asking about her husband.
Upon leaving the attackers vandalised the house with graffiti and stole two laptops, some USB drives, and a number of documents. Minutes after the attack members of the Technical Investigation Team of the Prosecutor General’s Office arrived at the house to carry out the preliminary investigation. The family have since fled their home.
Rojas said that she reported the attack on November 10 but the employee at the Prosecutor General’s Office said that the denouncement could not be accepted “because this was, according to him, a robbery and not a threat.”
Gerard also used his letter to warn of an alert received by the Oilworker’s Union, or USO union, saying that paramilitaries had made the decision to “kill the leaders of the USO union” in the areas of Pacific Rubiales oil exploration.
The US union leader asked the government leaders to “take all possible measures to ensure that the Colombian government ensures the safety and well-being of the threatened USO unionists.”