THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
AND TO FORM AND JOIN UNIONS
The right to form and join trade and professional associations is a basic principle that all 34 member states of the Organization must observe. All are bound by the provisions of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and 20 must abide by the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights.
For the ILO, the world agency that oversees and protects these rights, the freedom to form and join labor unions must be guaranteed not only in law but in practice as well. The State bears international responsibility for seeing that the conventions are observed, regardless of whether the violations were committed by employers. The ILO's Union Freedom Committee believes Colombia's record of violations of union freedom is one of the most serious, especially as regards the guarantee of basic civil rights, which is a condition sine qua non for proper exercise of freedom of association. After examining the death threats made to union members, in its 259th report the ILO's Union Freedom Committee concluded that the Colombian case was one of the most serious cases it had ever seen where violation of the right to life was concerned; that impunity was widespread in the country and that the dramatic violence that Colombia was experiencing in general made any normal existence for the people impossible and prevented full exercise of union activities.
It added that the climate of terror that these threats create can only have an deleterious effect on the exercise of union activities, which can only be exercised when basic human rights are respected, in an atmosphere free of any form of violence, pressure or threat.
The international standards contained in the American Convention on Human Rights and the national standards embodied in the 1991 Constitution of Colombia to protect and defend the right to freedom of association and the freedom to form and join unions and their violation are as follows:
A. LEGAL PROVISIONS IN RESPECT OF THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
American Convention on
Article 16. Freedom of Association
1. Everyone has the right to associate freely for ideological, religious, political, economic, labor, social, cultural, sports, or other purposes.
2. The exercise of this right shall be subject only to such restrictions established by law as may be necessary in a democratic society, in the interest of national security, public safety or public order, or to protect public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others.
3. The provisions of this article do not bar the imposition of legal restrictions, including even deprivation of the exercise of the right of association, on members of the armed forces and the police.
Art.38. The right to associate freely to conduct the various activities in which people in society engage shall be guaranteed.
Art.39. Workers and employers have the right to form unions or associations, without state intervention. They shall obtain legal status merely by registering their charter.
The internal structure and functioning of unions, social organizations and professional organizations shall conform to the legal system and principles of democracy.
Legal status may be revoked or suspended only via court action.
The authority of union representatives is hereby recognized, as are the guarantees necessary for them to perform their functions.
Members of the armed forces and the police do not have the right to form unions.
American Declaration of the
Rights and Duties of Man
Right of Association
Art.XXII. Every person has the right to associate with others to promote, exercise and protect his legitimate interests of a political, economic, religious, social, cultural, professional, labor union or other nature.
B. WAYS IN WHICH THIS RIGHT HAS BEEN VIOLATED
Members of the Colombian Labour Confederation (CUT) and the Special Committee of the IACHR discussed at length the various problems with the right to freedom of association and the right to form and join unions. The members of the CUT told the Special Committee that organized labor has some 900,000 members nationwide, out of an economically active population of 11.5 million. There are some 3 million that could be unionized. The serious impediments in the country's labor legislation, the posture taken by officials of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the anti-union sentiment among the vast majority of entrepreneurs, the campaign constantly being waged from the highest levels of Government via the mass media, and the war that the most conservative elements of Colombian society have been waging against union leadership and activism are some of the reasons why more of Colombian labor is not organized.
They said that very few workers in Colombia are able to exercise their rights to organize for labor purposes, petition, bargain, collective contracting and strike. As for the application and enforcement of the ILO Conventions, Colombia --they maintain--is one of the few countries where this has never been possible, even though it ratified those conventions back in 1976 through Laws 26 and 27.
Although the 1991 Constitution recognizes the right to collective bargaining and strike, these continue to be severely limited because of the restrictions imposed on a number of activities that government authorities regard as a public service. These authorities ignore the observations of the ILO's Union Freedom Committee to the effect that a general restriction of the right to strike is permissible only in the case of those services that are classified as essential, which the ILO defines as those whose suspension could jeopardize the safety or life of all or part of the public. ILO watchdog agencies have also challenged the restriction on the right to collective bargaining imposed on a large group of civil servants classified as public employees.
It is obvious that in Colombia at the present time the civil and political liberties which the International Labor Organization (ILO) defines as being essential to the exercise of the right to form and join unions are being seriously curtailed, especially the right to the security of one's person. But other rights are also being violated, such as the right to freedom of opinion, the right to express one's opinion and the right of assembly.
C. PETITIONS RELATIVE TO THIS RIGHT
According to the CUT, between its establishment in November 1986 and May 1990, 538 union activists and leaders were killed and disappeared; from May 1990 to November 1992, another 35 were assassinated, bringing the total to 573 workers assassinated in the union's short four-year existence. The CUT then presented the IACHR's Special Commission with a petition denouncing the following assassinations of its leaders and members between 1988 and November 1990:
NEMESIO MACHUCA PAYAN was murdered around 7:00 p.m. on February 14, 1988, while at a drinking establishment. Gunmen shot him to death. He was 33 years old and the father of two. JOSE FRANCISCO POLO was killed on April 9, 1988, following a sports event at the Workers Recreation Center. He was killed by gunmen using weapons of differing caliber. He was 50 years old and the father of three. Also killed in this incident were HUMBERTO MARTINEZ and JOSE ARLEY BEDOYA IBARRA. ANGEL DAVID CASTAÑO AGUDELO was killed on September 24, 1988, at a commercial establishment. A group of locally-known gunmen was present when armed men entered and attacked the gunmen, gravely wounding the worker, who was then shot by the gunmen themselves. He left two daughters. EMILTON RODRIGUEZ, December 19, 1988, was wounded by gunmen at around 10:00 p.m.; the company ambulance took him to Bucaramanga, where the same gunmen shot him again and killed him. He left one daughter. JOSE ANTONIO VEGA HERNANDEZ was murdered by two armed men at the door to his home, on December 27, 1988. One of his small daughters was wounded in the incident. He left four children.
PEDRO SOLANO was shot and killed on January 1, 1989, while in a commercial establishment. He left four children. SEFERINO CUADROS was killed by hired gunmen on January 14, 1989, as he was headed for a public establishment. PEDRO PAEZ was killed on the street on January 14, 1989. He left five children. JOSE HOMES ESTEBAN was killed on January 29, 1989, as he was headed home. He left three children. LIBARDO RENGIFO, agrarian leader of the municipality of Palestina, department of Caldas, was attacked on Saturday, April 29, when a gunman shot him five times in the back; he was taken to Hospital Universitario in Manizales, where he died on Tuesday, May 2. On May 9, BENJAMIN SOTELO, JOSE FRANCISCO MANTILLA and JOSE SANTOS CAREPA, members of the Mining Union in the Municipality of Ataco, Department of Tolima, were attacked there by gunmen, who killed Sotelo and Mantilla and wounded Jose Santos. TEODORO QUINTERO, auditor for SINTRACUEMPONAL, Bucaramanga, disappeared on May 11, at 8:30 a.m., after being forced into a taxi bearing license plates XK-9371. He was later found dead on the road from Bucaramanga to Piedecuesta, in the Department of Santander. NICOLAS CIRO GIRALDO DE JESUS was assassinated on May 12, 1989, while waiting for the bus to work. He left two children. ADOLFO PEREZ AROSEMENA and CARLOS ENRIQUE MORALES, journalists and collaborators of the Office of the Deputy Director of the CUT in Valle, were found dead in the city of Cali, Department of Valle, on May 21. Their bodies showed obvious signs of torture. ISMAEL MONTES PEÑA and EVERT MANUEL CABRERA (17 years old), a high school teacher and student, respectively, were murdered by hired gunmen in the village of Guadual, district of Los Manguitos, municipality of Arboletes, Urabá region, Department of Antioquia, on May 26. Professor Montes was a member of the Antioquia Teachers Association, ADIDA. CESAR ARCADIO CERON CHANTRE, auditor with the Inderena Workers Union, SINTRARENA, Cauca branch, and a member of the Human Rights Committee in that department, was killed by gunmen on June 10. They shot him twice in the head as he was leaving his home in Popayán, Department of El Cauca. LAUREANO SANTAMARIA and JAIRO LEON VILLEGAS, payroll clerk and professor, respectively, from the Necoclí Rural Development Center in Antioquia, disappeared on June 15. The two were forcibly removed from the educational facility and shoved into a vehicle probably belonging to Inderena. TOMAS VILLA VIVERO, a former laborer on the La Suerte farm, former member of the farm's worker-employer committee and a member of the CUT-affiliated National Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate (SINTRAINAGRO), was murdered by a paramilitary group in Apartadó, Department of Antioquia, on July 18 at 7:00 p.m. JORGE GONZALEZ, MIGUEL MARTINEZ Y TORREGLOSA, peasants affiliated with the CUT-affiliated National Small Farmers Union (SINPAGRI), disappeared in the district of Costa de Oro, municipality of Tierra Alta, Department of Cordoba, on July 18. Their whereabouts are still unknown. On July 28 MARIA ELENA DIAS PEREZ, Third Public Order Judge, a member of the National Association of Judges and Judiciary Employees (ASONAL JUDICIAL) who was conducting the investigation into the Urabá and Córdoba massacres, was assassinated in Medellin by hired gunmen as she was on her way home. MANUEL JOSE ZAPATA CARMONA and OMAR LEON GOMEZ MARIN, professors at the Universidad de Antioquia and members of the Association of University Professors (ASPU), were shot down by hired gunmen in the Municipality of Bello, Department of Antioquia, July 29. HENRY CUENCA VEGA, a worker at the Valle Cement Company and President of the National Federation of Cement and Construction Workers (FENALTRACONCEM), Secretary General of the Latin American Federation of Construction, Cement and Wood Workers (FLEMACON) and a member of the National Board of Directors of the CUT, was assassinated by three hired gunmen in front of his home in Bogota, at 9:30 p.m. on July 30. Mr. Cuenca had already been the victim of an assault in the district of Yumbo. GILBERTO SANTANA, principal of the Algarrobo District High School and a member of the Magdalena Teachers Association (EDUMAG) -an affiliate of the Colombian Teachers Federation (FECODE) and of the CUT, was shot and killed by hired gunmen in the district of Fundación, Department of Magdalena Medio, at 6:00 a.m. on August 1. IVAN RESTREPO and FIDEL ROA, driver and worker on the Guatapuri banana plantation, respectively, and both members of the National Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate (SINTRAINAGRO), were abducted on July 27 and found dead in the District of Chigorodó, Department of Antioquia, on August 1. DANIEL JOSE ESPITIA, general treasurer of the Asociación Nacional de Usuarios Campesinos (ANUC) and FABIO MIRANDA PUPO, Coordinator of the UP political organization in Ayapel (Cordoba), were shot down by hired gunmen at 6:00 p.m. on August 9, in the Cantaclaro district of the city of Monteria, Department of Cordoba. JUAN RIVERA, Vice President of the Union of Construction Materials Workers (SUTIMAC), was assassinated by hired killers in the District of Puerto Nare, Department of Antioquia, on August 11. In protest, the Nare cement workers conducted a work stoppage in the Sierra and Caracolí districts, along with the Colcarburos Union. ORLANDO ROA GRIMALDUS, 30, an employee of the Santander Power Company and a member of the National Union of Electrical Workers of Colombia (SINTRAELECOL), was shot down by hired killers on the night of Sunday, August 13, while at his home in Bucaramanga, Department of Santander. CARLOS ENRIQUE VALENCIA, Magistrate with the Bogota Superior Court, was assassinated by hired gunmen in Bogota, Wednesday, August 16. JUAN DE DIOS RINCON was assassinated on August 30, 1989, as he was waiting for the bus to work. He was President of the San Alberto Council. He left three children. On September 9, in the district of Apartadó, Urabá region, Department of Antioquia, SEBASTIAN MOSQUERA, accountant for the National Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate (SINTRAINAGRO) and a member of the National Board of Directors of the CUT, was killed by hired gunmen as he was on his way to inform workers of the status of the labor negotiations. EULISES GOMEZ, union activist and negotiator of the most recent demands of the SINTRAINAGRO-affiliated banana workers, was assassinated by paramilitary on the Rio Vista farm, Municipality of Carepa, Department of Antioquia, on September 9. CARLOS MARTINEZ, a SINTRAINAGRO bargainer on the Agrocarambolos farm, was taken by force from his home by four heavily armed individuals in civilian dress, who then killed him. The incident took place in the municipality of Apartadó, department of Antioquia, on September 9. In Cali, in the Department of El Valle, MANUEL NOVOA, an activist with the National Rubber and Plastic Workers Union (SINTRACAUCHOPLASTICO) and former president of the Goodyear Workers Union, disappeared on September 15 as he was coming off work; on September 18, his body was found floating in the Cauca river and showed visible signs of torture; his hands were tied behind his back. LUIS E. DURAN, a member of the Nare Cement Workers Union, was murdered by a hired gunman as he was headed home from work, on Friday, September 29, in Nare, Department of Antioquia. In Medellín, department of Antioquia, at 7:00 a.m. on October 17 HECTOR JIMENEZ RODRIGUEZ, a Magistrate with the Criminal Court of Antioquia and a member of the ASONAL JUDICIAL, was assassinated by hired gunmen as he was waiting for friends to pick him up. DIEGO LUIS MARTINEZ, a worker and member of the National Labor Union (SINDEBRAS), was murdered by hired gunmen while at his home in the district of Turbo, Department of Antioquia, Friday October 20, at 6:30 p.m. ENOC CAMPOS and ALBERTO LOPEZ, members of the National Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate (SINTRAINAGRO) and part of the Strike Committee formed in connection with the list of demands submitted by the banana workers, were murdered by hired killers in the municipality of Apartado, Uraba region, on the night of Saturday, October 21. On October 23 the banana workers conducted a work stoppage to protest this new act of violence. NEL DARIO GOMEZ, a worker at the Colombian Agrarian Reform Institute (INCORA), was assassinated in Montería, Department of Córdoba, on November 20, at 6:00 p.m., as he was leaving his place of work. Two men on a motorbike shot him down. He was Secretary General of the INCORA Syndicate, SINTRADIN, in Córdoba. On October 25, EUCLIDES LIZARAZO PERTUZ, a teacher and member of the Magdalena Teachers Union (EDUMAG) and employed at the Cristo Rey High School in Santa Marta, was killed there by hired gunmen. Mr. Lizarazo had been threatened on numerous occasions. RODRIGO QUINTERO DE LA PAVA, once a member of the Executive Board of ASONAL JUDICIAL, and GUILLERMO MENA LOZANO, an activist in that organization, were killed in Cali on October 26. Their bodies, found in the Cauca river, showed signs that they had been tortured after being abducted as they were leaving their place of work the previous Thursday night. MARIELA ESPINOZA ARANGO, magistrate and member of ASONAL JUDICIAL, was assassinated by hired gunmen in Medellin, Department of Antioquia, on November 1. On November 24, ARTURO LOPEZ and his wife MARIA DE LOPEZ, both teachers and members of the Meta Teachers Association (ADEM), were attacked by hired gunmen in Guamal (Meta). Maria de Lopez was killed instantly, while Arturo Lopez survived. HECTOR MARTINEZ was murdered by hired gunmen on November 27, 1989, as he was on his way from San Alberto to Puerto Carreño. LUIS ALFONSO PEREZ VINAZCO, an active member of the CUT-affiliated National Agricultural Workers Union (SINALTRAINAL), disappeared in the municipality of Bugalagrande, Department of Valle del Cauca, on the evening of November 30. HERIBERTO ESPINOZA, Secretary General of the Antioquia Amalgamated Union (FESUTRAN) and a member of the National Executive Board of the CUT, was assassinated by hired gunmen in Medellin, Department of Antioquia. The assassination occurred on Friday, December 15 at 6:00 p.m., two blocks from FESUTRAN headquarters. He was shot seven times and taken to a clinic, but died shortly thereafter.
AQUILES GUTIERREZ OCHOA and his FATHER disappeared on January 4, 1990, as they were on their way to a farm outside San Alberto. On January 14, peasant farmers JOSE DEL CARMEN ALVAREZ BLANCO, SANTIAGO GONZALEZ, JORGE FERMIN CALDE HERNANDES, ANDRES FLOREZ ALTAMIRANDA, CARMELO GUERRA PESTAÑA, JOSE PETRO HERNANDEZ, LUIS CARLOS RICARDO, ELIDE RICARDO PEREZ, GENARO CALDERON, RAUL PEREZ, WILSON FUENTES, DIOMENES BARRERA OROZCO, VICTOR ARGEL HERNANDEZ, JUAN MEZA SERRANO, MIGUEL PEREZ, JUAN LIOS ESCOBAR, LEONEL ESCOBAR, OVIDIO SUAREZ, JUAN CRUZ, BENITO PEREZ PEDROZA, JENOR ARRIETA LORA, MIGUEL GUTIERREZ ARRIETA, RICARDO BOHORQUEZ, LUIS MIGUEL ESPINOZA, URIAS BARRERA OROZCO, JOSE BARRERA OROZCO, MIGUEL LOPEZ, JORGE MARTINEZ, MANUEL MONTES MARTINEZ, CRISTOBAL ARROYO BLANCO and JORGE CASTRO, of Pueblo Bello in the municipality of Turbo, Department of Antioquia, were taken away by a group of 40 men in military dress and by civilians carrying galil rifles or submachine guns. The paramilitary group that calls itself Los Tangueros claimed responsibility for this act. JESUS ALBERTO BONILLA PICO, former Treasurer of the Colombian Teamsters Union (UNIMOTOR) and former Vice Chairman of the Santander Labor Union (USITRAS) -both CUT affiliates-, was assassinated by two hired killers, who shot him in the back as he was leaving the USITRAS offices at 10:00 a.m. on January 26. He was employed by the department and was a member of SINTRADEPARTAMENTALES. For some months he had been receiving telephone threats warning him that he would be killed if he did not abandon his union activities. EPAMINONDAS ALZA and FELIPE BLANCO, members of the CUT-affiliated Indupalma Workers Union (ASINTRAINDUPALMA), were assassinated by hired gunmen, who also wounded PEDRO MARIA RINCON and another individual whose identity is unknown. The incident occurred in San Alberto, Department of Cesar, on January 27. FREDY PEREZ, JAIME BELTRAN, ELIECER SUAREZ and SAUL ORTIZ, members of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), were murdered in the indigenous community of Zenu on January 30. MARCOS PADILLA and ELIECER GUERRERO, workers on the La Toscana farm in the municipality of Carepa, Department of Antioquia and members of the National Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate (SINTRAINAGRO), were murdered by armed men who came to the encampments on the farm in question. FELIPE BLANCO VARGAS was shot by armed gunmen on January 27, 1990, as he was waiting for transportation along the road in the La Palma district. Military stationed at a base some 100 meters away were immediately notified of what happened, but refused to pursue the gunmen. He died on February 7, leaving four children. At 9:00 a.m. on February 13, a man and a woman shot GUSTAVO DE JESUS GONZALEZ, Vice President of the National Union of Colcarburos Workers, La Sierra branch, in the Department of Antioquia, while he was on a Medellín city bus. AMPARO TORRES SERRANO, a teacher and a member of the Santander Teachers Union (SES), was murdered by hired gunmen in Bucaramanga, Department of Santander, on February 13. AMAYER MARQUEZ, director of the National Association of Hospital, Clinic and Medical Office Workers (ANTHOC), Cartago Branch, was killed by three hired gunmen as he was leaving his home in the municipality of Cartago, Department of El Valle, on February 16. DARIO OSPINA, professor at the Juan XXIII School and a member of the Antioquia Teachers Association (ADIDA), was killed by a group of hired gunmen in the municipality of Bello, Department of Antioquia, on February 16. ANGEL GONZALEZ, DOMINGO GONZALEZ and RODRIGO JIMENEZ, farm workers on the Mundo Nuevo hacienda and members of the National Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate (SINTRAINAGRO), Cordoba branch, were taken from the hacienda by a group of 10 heavily armed men who surrounded some of the workers and then cut their victims' throats and threw them in a pond on hacienda land. This happened in El Carmelo, Alto Sinu region, Department of Cordoba, on February 17. BERTA GALEANO disappeared in the same incident. On February 19, two armed men driving by in a Renault 4 shot and killed FABIOLA ROCIO LOAYZA ALZATE, 38, married, Director of the Simona Duque School and a member of the Antioquia Teachers Association (ADIDA); when the shooting happened, the victim was entering home in the neighborhood of Aranjuez in Medellín, Department of Antioquia. MASSACRE IN THE TOWN OF EL CASTILLO, Department of Meta. Farmhands JACINTO SOA (60), BERNARDINO PRIETO (55), and young HORACIO PRIETO, OMERLY MONTOYA, JOSE ARCADIO ZEA and EUGENIO PRIETO were killed by 15 men in military dress, on February 24. RUBEN DARIO ULLOA ULLOA, a teacher and member of the Caldas Teachers Union (EDUCAL) and working in the municipality of Risaralda, Department of Caldas, was murdered by hired gunmen in the municipality of Virginia, department of Risaralda, on February 24. SILFREDO RODRIGUEZ was killed on February 24, 1990, as he was headed for his home in Cachira (Norte de Santander). He was shot after being forced out of the vehicle he was in. He left two daughters. NORA RUIZ FLORES, librarian with the Unguia Agricultural Institute and a member of the CUT-affiliated Union of National Education Ministry Workers (SINTRENAL), was killed along with another four leaders of the Unión Patriótica, in the municipality of Unguia, Department of Choco, on February 28. Also on February 28, JOSUE VARGAS MATEUS, SAUL CASTAÑEDA, leaders of the Carare Peasant Association, and journalist SILVIA MARGARITA DUZAN and MIGUEL ANGEL BARAJAS, members of the Bogota Journalist Club, were killed by hired gunmen in the town of Cimitarra, Department of Santander, as the journalist was doing a story on them. PABLO EMILIO CARDENAS, Treasurer of SINTRAPROACEITES, and his brother-in-law ALVARO MORA, a worker and member of ASINTRAINDUPALMA (both SINTRAPROACEITES and ASINTRAINDUPALMA, headquartered in San Alberto in the department of El Cesar, are CUT affiliated), were murdered as they were going from San Alberto to Bucaramanga on March 4. Then their bodies turned up in the town of Chimita. They had been tortured and shot in the head. Cardenas left two daughters. GILBERTO JOSE MONTES MONTIEL (28), a teacher at the Rabo Mocho School in the village of Tapa Sola, municipality of Planeta Rica, Department of Cordoba, and a member of the Cordoba Teachers Association (ADEMACOR), was murdered by hired gunmen on March 6. On March 14, ANTONIO ESPEJO HERRERA, JAIME VIDES AMARIS and JORGE POLO CAMARGO, of the National Natural Resource Institute (INDERENA), were harassed near the mouth of the Fundacion River, Department of Magdalena, by the Colombian Air Force (FAC), COCUM III Airbase. When they reached Cienaga, they were hit by machine-gun fire and Mr. Espejo was killed. In the municipality of Apartado, Department of Antioquia, DIONISIO BOLIVAR, a banana worker on the El Congo plantation and a member of SINTRAINAGRO, was assaulted by gunmen on Tuesday, March 13, and died on Wednesday, March 14. AUGUSTO MALDONADO, a political and grassroots labor leader and a member of the ASINTRAINDUPALMA union, was murdered by hired killers as he was leaving his house in the Primero de Mayo neighborhood in the municipality of San Alberto, Department of El Cesar, on March 15. JOSE AUGUSTO MALDONADO was killed by a hired assassin on March 15, 1990, as he was arriving home in the Primero de Mayo neighborhood of San Alberto (Cesar). On March 23, RENE CASTILLO BOHORQUEZ, a leader of the FECODE-CUT affiliated Boyaca Teachers Union (SINDIMAESTROS), was assassinated by hired gunmen in the municipality of Almeyda, Department of Boyaca. On March 27, GENTIL CORDOBA, a worker on the Guatapuri farm and treasurer of the Chigorodo section of SINTRAINAGRO and a town councilman, was taken from the farm by a number of men and found dead several hours later. ANSELMO DIAZ, a worker on the Guatapuri farm and a member of SINTRAINAGRO, was taken away by force by a group of men and found dead several hours later. This incident occurred in the municipality of Chigorodo, Department of Antioquia, on March 27. MIGUEL A. CORREA and FELIX ESPITIA, workers on the El Romeral farm in the municipality of Chigorodo and members of SINTRAINAGRO--Mr. Correa was Secretary General of SINTRAINAGRO--, were assassinated by hired gunmen. LEON DARIO JIMENEZ, a member of the Complaints Committee of the National Union of Coffee Bank Workers (SINTRABANCA) -an affiliate of FENASIBANCOL-CUT, was shot by two hired gunmen who had been lying in wait on a motorbike in Monteria, Department of Córdoba, on March 29. LUIS FERNANDO MUÑOZ, a worker with Curtiembres Titan and member of the company union (SINTRATITAN), was murdered by several armed men who identified themselves as members of the Cali death squads; when they were unable to get into his house, they fired their weapons, killing a friend and wounding his wife and mother-in-law. This happened in Cali, Department of El Valle, on April 17. JOHN JAIRO GALINDO and JOHN EDWARD FANDIÑO CORREA, workers on the La Venturosa and Araguates farms and members of SINTRAINAGRO, were at the Palermo Restaurant when they were arrested by police in Medellín on May 16. They were found dead on May 17. On June 6, JULIO CESAR ARIAS CASTAÑO, 40, a teacher serving as Director of the Teachers Services Center in the Municipality of Bolivar (Antioquia) and a member of the Antioquia Teachers Association (ADIDA), was assassinated while on a city bus, as he was headed for work in Medellín. AMERICO TORRES IBARGUEN, a worker on the La Caridad farm and a member of its Employee-Management Committee, and CLAUDIO BENITEZ, another farmhand at La Caridad, were both members of SINTRAINAGRO; on June 6, at around 6:30 a.m., 12 uniformed men, some wearing wigs, came to the farm carrying long- and short-range weapons and machetes. They assembled the workers and, claiming to be a guerrilla group, grabbed the two workers and shot them in the presence of their co-workers. Mr. Americo was wounded and started running; they caught him and killed him with a machete. In Cali, at 10:15 p.m. on June 6, PEDRO PABLO OSPINA, an ECOPETROL worker and member of the USO Labor Union, was attacked by an armed gunman who shot him four times and killed him as he was getting ready to board the bus for work. Mr. Ospina had survived an attempt two years earlier. SILVIO VALENCIA MEDINA, Professor and Director of the La Rejoya Rural School and a member of the Cauca Teachers Association (ASOINCA), was killed in Popayan on June 7, at 7:30 a.m. HECTOR MARIO LOPEZ, Secretary General of the Cali Public Enterprise Labor Union, was assassinated at his home in Cali on June 18. EUGENIO GALINDO OROZCO and JOAQUIN GALINDO OROZCO were assassinated on June 6, in the municipality of Apartadó, by two hired assassins in civilian dress, who were firing their guns when they entered the Galindo Orozco home. Eugenio was Secretary of Education of the Apartadó Branch of SINTRAINAGRO. Both were members of the Frente Popular. APOLINAR FABRA was assassinated on July 8 at Galicia farm in the municipality of Carepa (Antioquia). A group of armed men in civilian dress came to his place of work, called for him by name and then shot him dead at close range. Apolinar was the Solidarity Secretary at the Carepa Branch of SINTRAINAGRO. ALFONSO CUESTA was murdered on July 9 on the Marta Teresa farm in the municipality of Carepa (Uraba Antioquia) by a group of armed men in civilian dress, who shot him at close range. The farm had been searched some days earlier by the Army. Alfonso was a banana worker and a member of SINTRAINAGRO. JORGE SIERRA, Director of the Monteria Small Businessmen's Syndicate (UPECOMON-CUT), was murdered on July 7 in Montería (Córdoba). ALVARO GOMEZ PADILLA, Education Director and Chief of the Montería Education District, and a member of the ADEMACOR-CUT Teachers Union, was murdered in Montería on July 15, by gunmen who shot him in his own home. GONZALO CASTAÑO ZAPATA, President of the Caldas Federation of Labor (FEDECALDAS-CUT) and a member of the National Board of Directors of the CUT, in events that transpired in Manizales on July 19. AVELINO ACHICANOY, 32 and a member of the Strike Committee of the Nariño Coca Cola Bottling Plant Union, was found dead on the outskirts of the city, beside the road north. He had been shot in the head. His death orphaned 5 children. He was killed in the city of Pasto on July 25. MARBI ALONSO FORONDA, a worker from La Palma and a member of USITRAS, was murdered on Monday, August 6, in the El Pedregal District, Municipality of Puerto Wilches, Department of Santander, by a band of hired gunmen who showed up at his house at dawn. To protest this new crime, 500 workers held an indefinite work stoppage to pressure national and local authorities to give them protection. RAFAEL JARAMILLO, a worker from Croydon and a SINTRAINCAPLA delegate, was murdered as he was leaving his home on his way to work, by two men who shot him seven times in the head. This happened in the Barlovento neighborhood of Bogota, on August 23. HECTOR CASTRO, ROQUE JIMENEZ (workers) and LEONEL SUMAQUE (foreman) of the Alameda farm, all members of SINTRAINAGRO, were on their way to work in Chigorodó (Antioquia) at 5:00 a.m. on August 27, when they were attacked by a group of men dressed in army clothing. On August 26, MANUEL VERONA, a member of the National Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate (SINTRAINAGRO), was murdered on the Chinia farm in Urubá (Antioquia). He was with friends when a group of armed men suddenly appeared and fired at close range; one worker and his wife were wounded. ROEL ALVIS, a member of the Complaints Committee of the National Board of the Securities Teamsters Union (SINTRAVALORES), was taken into custody at his home on August 29, at 7:30 a.m. Two individuals who identified themselves as F-2 agents ordered him to accompany them and put him in a black jeep. His bruised body was found later at El Espinal (Tolima), with bullet wounds to the head. HERNANDO LUGO, a member of the Hospital Workers Union of Cartagena, was killed on September 6 in Cartagena. RUTH CLAVIJO, a school teacher in Medellín, was murdered there on September 7. HERBERT HENAO, a worker at the Villanueva farm in Apartadó (Antioquia), was shot and killed instantly by a group of men who showed up at the farm on September 14. SAUL ANAYA MAZA, a member of the Córdoba Teachers Association and of the Colombian Federation of Teachers (FECODE), was assassinated on a main street in Monteria on September 19. EDILMA MORENO, an activist with the National Agroindustrial Labor Syndicate (SINTRAINAGRO) and a member of the Apartadó town council after being elected to it as the candidate of the Unión Patriótica, was killed on October 19 as she was leaving the Apartadó town festival with friends. On October 25 PABLO ANTONIO GONZALEZ and JOHN JAIRO GOMEZ, members of the SINTRAPROACEITES Union, were killed when they were assaulted by a group of armed men wearing military dress. Gonzalez and Gomez were forced out of their vehicle and shot immediately. PABLO ANTONIO GONZALEZ was murdered by gunmen on October 24, 1990, in the municipality of San Alberto. ESTEBAN PALMET DOMINGUEZ, Director of the Secondary Education Institute (INEM) of Apartadó (Antioquia), was killed by gunmen at 10:00 p.m. on October 26, as he arrived home. To protest his assassination, the Antioquia Teachers Association (ADIDA) began a department-wide work stoppage. On October 27, as he was crossing a main street in the town of Ricaurte, LUIS EDUARDO CALDERON, a leader of the FENSUAGRO-affiliated Cundinamarca Farm Workers Union (SINTRAGRICUN), was killed by two gunmen on a motorbike. OFER HERNANDEZ, a member of the Departmental Board of the Antioquia Labor Federation, Envigado Branch, and a worker with the FURESA company in the Ardila Lulle group, was killed on October 31 in the northwestern corner of Manrique District, at around 11:30 a.m., as he was leaving his place of residence to go to work. He was approached by a gunman who shot him seven times and killed him. HERNAN GENTIL MARTINEZ PABON, a teacher working for the Department of El Cauca, in the district of San Lorenzo, municipality of Bolivar, was murdered by hired gunmen on the night of November 4. He was 33 and left two small children. GERMAN REDONDO, Secretary General of the Colombian Sugarcane Industry Workers Union (SINTRAICAÑAZUCOL), was murdered at 6:45 a.m. on November 13, on board a bus that was carrying the workers from the San Carlos de Tuluá (Valle) mill.
For their part, representatives of the Colombian Teachers Federation (FECODE) described in detail the problems that teachers and teachers' unions were experiencing and delivered the following list of teachers murdered in 1989:
FERMIN MELENDEZ ACOSTA, former President of ADEMACOR, President of the CUT-affiliated Córdoba Federation of Labor (FETRACOR) and a member of the National Board of Directors of the CUT, was murdered on January 1. FRANCISCO DE PAULA PEREZ CASTRILLON, a professor at the "Pedro Luis Villa" School, Manrique district, Medellín, was killed on January 1. GILDARDO CASTAÑO OROZCO, Professor at the ESAP and the Universidad Catolica de Pereira and President of the Risaralda Teachers Association (APROR), was killed on January 6. MARIA ELVIRA DE ANGULO, a teacher at the Barrancabermeja National School, Department of Santander, was killed on January 9, 1989. ALFONSO GARCIA CANO, professor at the "Piedrecitas" village school in the municipality of Turbo, Department of Antioquia, was crossing the campus of the Universidad de Antioquia on January 12, 1989, when he was shot by individuals from a passing vehicle. MARIO ORTIZ, professor of the Universidad del Valle. LUIS FRANCISCO CHAPARRO, Vice President of the Office of the Deputy Director of the Caquetá Teachers Association (AICA), was murdered on January 25, 1989, in the district of Curillo in the department of Caquetá. JONHY JOSE VANEGAS, a professor in the Caracolicito district, municipality of El Copey, department of El Cesar, was murdered on January 26. JAIME GOMEZ LONDOÑO, a teacher, was killed on January 28, 1989, in the municipality of Quinchia in the department of Risaralda. HECTOR AUGUSTO SINNING CARDENAS, full-time professor of Social Sciences at the "Manuel H. Iriarte U." Night School, was killed on February 16, 1989. ORLANDO ANIBAL MONROY VERGARA, IDEM professor in the municipality of Caucasia, department of Antioquia, was killed in that municipality on February 19. JAIME E. JESUS GALLEGO FLOREZ, another IDEM professor, was also wounded. JOSE VICENTE MUNAR OSORIO, a teacher at the Primavera Rural School in Génova, department of Quindío, was murdered on February 27 as he was on his way to work. Sister TERESA RAMIREZ, a nun with the Company of Mary and a union activist, was teaching at the Cristales High School in the municipality of San Roque, department of Antioquia when she was murdered on February 28, 1989. JORGE LUIS GARCES, a teacher at the Miraflores School, village of San Antonio, municipality of Mistrató, department of Risaralda, was murdered on March 12. He had been receiving threats since 1987. SAUL REINA PEREA, professor at the Salado Grande Village School, municipality of Puerto Leguízamon, Putumayo National Intendency, was assassinated on March 20 at his place of work, in the presence of his wife and two children. HERNAN CASTRO CALDERON, professor of the San Pablo High School, municipality of Curillo, department of Caquetá, was murdered on April 3. He had been receiving threats. LUIS ALBERTO CARDONA, Professor at the Santa Rosa de Cabal Cooperative University in the department of Risaralda and Chairman of the Greater Caldas Human Rights Committee, was killed on April 4 near Tarapacá, on one of the Alcalá Express Line buses. He had been receiving threats. FERNANDO MESA CASTILLO, professor of the Cartago National High School, department of El Valle, and a professor at a private high school. JORGE OSORNO OSORNO, a teacher from the municipality of Amalfi and its delegate to the Assembly of the Antioquia Teachers Association (ADIDA), was killed at his home in Amalfi on May 7. HERNAN CUELLO DAZA, a teacher at the José Antonio Dávila Departmental High School in the municipality of San Juan del Cesar, Department of La Guajira, was killed on May 19. HUMBERTO JOSE BLANCO JULIAO, professor at the Gabriel Escobar Ballesta National High School in the Municipality of Plato, department of Magdalena, was killed at his home on May 20. The professor had been receiving threats. MIGUEL ANTONIO RODRIGUEZ RUBIO, principal of the Córdoba Institute in Bogota, D.E., was attacked at the school on the night of May 21 and was taken to the San Ignacio Hospital, where he died moments later. MILTON MARQUEZ MONTAÑES, professor of the La Pitala rural school, municipality of El Carmen, department of Santander, was killed in that village on May 24. EDILBERTO MARIN PATIÑO, professor at the La Dorada National Institute, La Dorada municipality, department of Caldas, was killed on May 28. LEONEL GARCIA RESTREPO, a teacher who worked at the farm camp, was killed on July 8. MANUEL MARIA MALLARINO was killed in the presence of his 9-year old son. GUILLERMO PASOS, a professor at the Puerto Wilches Industrial Technical Institute, department of Santander, was killed on July 8. A member of the staff of the National Rehabilitation Plan Program was also seriously wounded. ANTONIO FERNANDEZ CHILITO, a teacher at the César Negrette Velasco School in Popayán, department of El Cauca, was murdered on August 2, 1989, as was his father, Mr. DEMETRIO FERNANDEZ and his brother BANDELINO, in the municipality of San Sebastián, department of San Sebastián. On August 10, GUSTAVO DE JESUS MIRA RAMIREZ, a teacher at the Maria Bernal School in the Municipality of Itaguí, department of Antioquia, and an activist with the Antioquia Teachers Association (ADIDA), was coming from the Peldar Union and headed for the highway when he was killed. JULIO CESAR PEÑALOZA, a professor at the Soacha Departmental High School and a town councilman, was seriously wounded on August 18 in the attack on Dr. Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento. He died on August 23. RICAURTE CUARTAS RAMIREZ, auditor of the Caicedonia Local, was killed on September 20 as he was returning from presiding over the Municipal Assembly. He was a guidance counselor at the José Eusebio Caro High School. TEODORO VASQUEZ BORIGUA, a professor at the Samper High School in the municipality of Guaduas, department of Cundinamarca, was killed on September 24 as he was about to enter his house. He had been transferred from Chaguaní (Cundinamarca) because he was being threatened. ALVARO CAÑAS LONDOÑO, a teacher at the La Presentación High School and union coordinator in the municipality of La Virginia, Department of Risaralda, was killed on September 28, at a place called Guadalupe, between Pereira and La Virginia. JOSE ALIRIO RODRIGUEZ, a teacher at the Santa Cecilia rural school (municipal contract teacher) in the municipality of Landázuri, department of Santander, was killed on October 9 in the village of El Estanco in that same municipality and department. EVER GENTIL HOYOS PALECHOR, a teacher at the Santa Marta Rural School, municipality of La Sierra, department of El Cauca, was killed on October 14. LUIS FERNANDO MESA RIOS, a teacher at the Village School in El Barcinal, municipality of El Santuario, department of Risaralda, and a community leader, was killed on October 19. EUCLIDES LIZARAZO, former member of the Norte de Santander Teachers Union (ASINORT), a former secretary of UTRANORTE and a teacher at the Cristo Rey School in Santa Marta, department of Magdalena, was killed on October 25 as he was leaving his place of work. He had been receiving threats since May 1988. CRISTOBAL ALVAREZ ROJAS, a teacher in the municipality of Aratoca, department of Santander, was killed on November 21. MARIA DE JESUS NEIRA RODRIGUEZ DE LOPEZ, a teacher in the municipality of El Guamal, department of Meta, and her husband ARTURO LOPEZ were shot on November 23, as they were leaving the school on the outskirts of El Guamal. MARIA DE JESUS NEIRA died instantly and ARTURO LOPEZ was gravely wounded and received emergency treatment at a Villavicencio clinic. On November 20, BORIS ZAPATA MESA, professor at the University of Córdoba, was shot and killed in the main square of Montería, capital of the department of Córdoba. LUIS ANTONIO GARAVITO PARRA, a teacher from the village of Lejanías, municipality of Granada, Department of El Meta, was killed on November 28, in Dosquebradas, a municipality in the same department. ILDUARA SANCHEZ PALACIOS, a teacher from the village of Barcinales, municipality of Santuario, department of Risaralda, was killed on December 9 in Pereira in that same department.
These very serious collective complaints, which involving a succession of separate incidents, cannot be processed by the Commission according to the mechanisms and procedures established in articles 48 to 51 of the American Convention since the collective Colombian cases are beyond the scope of any procedural mechanism contemplated in either the Convention or the Commission's Statute and Regulations. Nevertheless, the Commission is absolutely certain that it has the competence to take cognizance of complaints of this nature on a case-by-case basis, whatever degree of responsibility the Colombian Government may bear in each case.
D. FINAL OBSERVATIONS
The Commission must inform the Colombian authorities that it is deeply disturbed by these terrible events and would therefore like to impress upon those authorities, which are undoubtedly aware of these facts, the importance of investigating them and punishing those responsible, and of considering, in each case, the possibility of paying fair compensatory damages to the victims' next-of-kin.