Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Columbian Union organizer murdered

by James Parks, Oct 28, 2009

George W. Bush was trying to get a free trade agreement with Columbia through Congress, but the  Congress torpedoed it because of all of the anti-union violence in Columbia. There was also a scandal in the Hillary Clinton campaign when Clinton's chief strategist, Mark Penn, apologized for meeting with Colombian officials pushing a free trade agreement that Hillary opposed. Penn was forced to resign.

The AFL-CIO is saddened and angered by news of the assassination of Honorio Llorente Melendez, a union organizer for the CUT—Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (Unitary Central of Workers) of Magdalena Medio—in Colombia. Until he was fired recently for trade union activity, Llorente had served as treasurer of Sintrainagro (National Union of Agricultural Industry Workers) in Santander.

A court hearing on his unlawful firing was scheduled to take place this week. Llorente is among at least 25 trade unionists killed this year in Colombia, which remains the deadliest country in the world for trade unionists. Llorente, a father of five, was killed Oct. 17, allegedly by paramilitaries, in Puente Sogamoso, a community in Puerto Wilches, Santander.

Prior to his murder, Llorente and his colleagues had received numerous death threats because of their organizing work. The CUT of Magdalena Medio had appealed to government authorities for protection, but its request was denied by the local police.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka expressed his outrage at Llorente’s murder, saying: We join our sister organization, the CUT of Colombia, in condemning the ongoing violence against trade unionists and other human rights defenders in Colombia, as well as the ongoing impunity of all of those responsible for this violence.

The AFL-CIO extends its condolences to the family and friends of Brother Llorente and stands in full solidarity with them. The AFL-CIO and CUT of Colombia demand that President Álvaro Uribe and the Colombian government order a full investigation, prosecution, conviction and sentencing of those responsible for this unconscionable crime.

They also call upon the U.S. Congress to demand the same. The two federations urge the Colombian government to protect the ability of all workers and trade unionists in Colombia to exercise their fundamental rights without fear of violence.

source: AFL-CIO Now blog

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