This from an Economic Snapshot from the Economic Policy Institute is by Tony Avirgan:
Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. Over the past 21 years, more than 2,534 unionists have been assassinated. (The Escuela Nacional Sindical has documented 2,534 assassinations but says there are surely more that have not been reported.)
President Alvaro Uribe was elected in 2002 and again in 2006 promising a crackdown on violence. His policies have resulted in a decrease in guerrilla violence, but there has been an increase in extrajudicial executions perpetrated by right-wing death squads and security forces (Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) news release, October 18, 2007). Assassinations of trade unionists have decreased, but so have prosecutions of the assassins. For the past two years, none of the killers of trade unionists has been brought to trial in Colombia.
Now, despite public outcry over these appalling human rights abuses and the firm opposition of U.S. and Colombian unions, the Bush administration is seeking to reward Uribe with a free-trade agreement.
Luciano Vasquez, Director General of the Escuela Nacional Sindical, will address these issues at a Global Policy Network forum on Wednesday, February 27th. Click here for further information and to RSVP.
See also several articles from Dollars & Sense about the dangers of organizing in the palm oil, cut flower, and bottled beverage industries in Colombia: Blood on the Palms, Oil-Palm Plantations on Afro-Colombian Lands, Stop Killer Coke!, Some Roses Don’t Smell So Sweet, and “Organizing Rural Labor in Colombia” (D&S November/December 2006, available only in the print edition).