Union Leader Tortured and Murdered

News from Colombia | on: Friday, 18 April 2008

The regional leader of the adult education workers' trade union, SINDESENA, has been found dead in the municipality of Sabanalarga in Colombia's Atlantico department. Jesus Heberto Caballero Ariza was kidnapped on April 16th and his body found yesterday next to a road. He had been severely tortured before being killed by a shot to the head. He is the 22nd trade unionist murdered so far this year in Colombia a huge increase over the number murdered during the same period last year.

As well as being an active trade unionist, Mr Caballero was involved in human rights and community work and was the president of the community council in the neighbourhood of 'Manuela Beltran' in the town of Soledad where he lived. As well as having been active in anti-privatisation campaigns in recent years Mr Caballero had helped mobilse people for the March 6th national protest held in Colombia against state-sponsored violence.

A Colombian Government spokesman accused those of being involved in the March 6th events, which included virtually the entire Colombian trade union movement as well as human rights groups and organisations representing the families of victims of violence, of being supporters of the FARC guerrilla group. Since the claim was made a huge increase in killings, threats and other attacks against those involved has occurred.

SINDESENA says that around 200 of its members have received death threats, mainly in the city of Medellin and in the department of Cordoba, and that four activists have been assassinated.

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