BOGOTA – Forty union members were murdered last year in Colombia as the Andean nation remained the world’s most dangerous country for labor activists, union officials said Thursday in the northwestern city of Medellin.
The figure signifies that “60 percent of the trade unionists killed worldwide are Colombians,” the head of the Human Rights and Solidarity Department of the CUT labor federation, Alberto Vanegas, told Efe.
“This forms part of a systematic policy of violation of human rights, of violation of union rights,” Vanegas said after speaking at the opening of a two-day conference in Medellin on anti-labor violence.
The gathering was organized by the CUT, the National Union School, the Center for Popular Research and Education and the Jose Alvear Restrepo Attorneys Collective.
Roughly half of the 150 attendees are relatives of slain union members, while the remainder includes representatives of human rights groups and U.N. agencies.
More than 2,700 labor activists have been murdered in Colombia since 1986, according to the CUT. The vast majority of those killings have gone unpunished.
“It’s a complete genocide of the union movement,” Vanegas said. “The families of the murdered unionists struggle for truth, justice and reparation.” EFE