Violence Against Colombia Trade Unionists and Impunity: How Much Progress Has There Been Under Uribe

By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

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Supporters of the Colombian Free Trade Agreement argue that under President Alvaro Uribe the Colombian government has made sufficient progress in addressing violence against trade unionists and impunity that Congress should now approve the trade pact. Their key arguments, and responses, follow.

CLAIM #1: VIOLENCE AGAINST TRADE UNIONISTS IS DOWN

Uribe backers point to the decline in the number of trade unionists murdered in Colombia, dropping from 94 killed in 2003 (Uribe’s first full year in office) to 72 killed in 2006 to 39 in 2007.

Fact: Since Uribe took office, more trade unionists have been murdered in Colombia than in the rest of the world combined.

  • Murders of trade unionists have escalated in 2008, with 17 murdered in the 1st quarter,
    running at a pace that would make 2008 totals more than 50% higher than 2007.
  • In sum, during Uribe’s tenure, Colombia has been the most dangerous place in the world
    to be a trade unionist.
  • A decline in the number of murders hardly creates the political conditions under which
    workers can freely exercise their basic rights. Even if all trade union killings stopped
    tomorrow, it would be a long time before