Urgent action: Six FENSUAGRO activists now arrested!
Last week many of you signed our urgent action regarding the four FENSUAGRO agricultural trade union activists who have been arrested in Putumayo and accused of ‘rebellion.’ We have now received news that two more trade unionists and members of FENSUAGRO has been arrested on the same charges.
Climaco de la Cruz Rodriguez is vice-president of the El Progreso Foundation and a member of FENSUAGRO’s National Executive. He was arrested at home on July 30th at 8.30am, accused of ‘rebellion.’ His colleague Faustino Carabali Rodriguez is the former treasurer of the El Progreso Foundation and was arrested at 4pm on August 7th.
On the 22nd of June Colombian authorities arrested 4 other FENSUAGRO members in Putumayo, accusing them of rebellion, narcotrafficking and terrorism. This kind of accusation is typical of those levelled by the government at trade unionists - in countless past cases the accusations have been dropped for lack of evidence. Social organisations in Putumayo are reporting that these arrests are part of a government strategy to weaken the increasing social mobilisation that followed a human rights public hearing held in February 2011.
The four men, Alexis Antonio Arroyo, Eulogio Tapiero Galindo, Manuel Antonio Angure and Telmo Cuevo Tegue, were detained at 6.30pm in Puerto Leguizamo, Putumayo on the 22nd June. All four are members of the ASCAP Putumayo Agricultural Peasants Association, part of FENSUAGRO. Mr Telmo Cuevo Tegue has already been accused of rebellion and absolved in a previous case.
FENSUAGRO is also reporting that Nercy Lorena Castro, another member of its Executive Committee has been victim of harassment by the Colombian authorities. In the department of Sucre, threats have also been received against two of its members - Franklin Torres Ramos and Ingrid Vergara Chavez - the treasurer and human rights officer of ASOTRACDES, part of FENSUAGRO, in the region. Torres and Vergara are also leading activists in MOVICE, the National Movement of Victims, and have been receiving constant threats along with other activists in the region.
To protest against the arrest and detention of these six trade unionists and the threats against their colleagues in Sucre please sign this letter to the Colombian ambassador.
I am writing to express my concern at the recent arrests of six FENSUAGRO activists. Four were detained on 22nd June in Puerto Leguizamo, Putumayo. The four, Alexis Antonio Arroyo, Eulogio Tapiero Galindo, Manuel Antonio Angure and Telmo Cuevo Tegue, are members of ASCAP, an affiliate of FENSUAGRO, and were arrested and accused of rebellion, narcotrafficking and terrorism. Another trade unionist, Climaco de la Cruz Rodriguez, was arrested on July 30th in Putumayo, accused of rebellion. On August 7th a sixth member of FENSUAGRO, Faustino Carabali Rodriguez was also arrested. I am concerned that they have all been arrested as a result of their legitimate trade union activity, as has been the case with so many others in Colombia in the recent past.
These arrests follow death threats received by two other FENSUAGRO activists in Sucre Department. Franklin Torres Ramos and Ingrid Vergara Chavez, both of FENSUAGRO affiliate ASOTRACDES and members of MOVICE. They have received a stream of threats in recent months and we write to urge the Colombian government to take adequate measures to protect their lives.
FENSUAGRO has had hundreds of members assassinated over the years and leading activists face constant threats as a result of their work to defend their members. Many FENSUAGRO members have also been accused of rebellion and subjected to lengthy legal proceedings by the Colombian state, without ever being convicted of the crimes they were accused of.
I urge the Colombian authorities to ensure that the cases of Faustino Carabali Rodriguez, Climaco de la Cruz Rodriguez, Alexis Antonio Arroyo, Eulogio Tapiero Galindo, Manuel Antonio Angure and Telmo Cuevo Tegue are treated with due process, and that they are released as justice demands.
I also urge you to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to safeguard the lives of all FENSUAGRO activists. Furthermore, I urge you to ensure that the most recent death threats are fully investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. The murder of trade unionists is not acceptable, and the international community will not stand by while colleagues continue to be persecuted and threatened in this way. Already this year, 18 trade union colleagues have been murdered in Colombia – a horrific figure which I hope you agree is unacceptable.
I would appreciate it if you kept me informed of any steps taken by the government of Colombia to safeguard Franklin Torres and Ingrid Vergara, and of any developments in the cases of Faustino Carabali Rodriguez, Climaco de la Cruz Rodriguez, Alexis Antonio Arroyo, Eulogio Tapiero Galindo, Manuel Antonio Angure and Telmo Cuevo Tegue.