BOGOTA – Colombian union leader Rafael Antonio Sepulveda was murdered by a hit man near his house in a populous sector of the northeastern city of Cucuta, the National Association of Hospital Workers of Colombia, or Anthoc, to which he belonged, announced Sunday.
The regional president of the union, Aristides Hernandez, said that his colleague was killed Saturday night as he returned home.
“Near his residence our comrade was killed, the union leader for public employees and Anthoc activist for Norte de Santander,” Hernandez said.
Sepulveda had worked at a hospital in Cucuta, the capital of Norte de Santander province, for 18 years and his latest post was as leader of the health sector union.
Hernandez said that in that region of Colombia there have been a total of seven union leaders murdered in the past two years, and 30 other union officials or members have received death threats.
The annual report of the International Union Confederation, or CSI, recently said that Colombia continued in 2008 to be the most dangerous country in the world to carry out activities in defense of workers, given that of the 76 union members killed throughout the world last year, 49 were Colombians.
That figure exceeds by 10 the number killed in 2007, despite the fact that worldwide the total number of murders in that sector diminished with respect to 2007, when there were 91 total killings.
Despite the high number of Colombian union members’ deaths, the report denounced the fact that the perpetrators of the violence against workers organizations and its members were not being adequately punished, as a result of some “negligible (court) sentences” imposed on those found guilty.