Colombian Trade Unionist Forced to Stay in Her House as Armed Men Attempt to Burn it Down

News from Colombia | on: Monday, 20 April 2009

The treasurer of the ASOGRAS trade union in Colombia was nearly burnt to death after heavily armed masked men arrived at her house on Saturday 18th April and told her to stay indoors whilst they attempted to set her home alight. Rosendo Duarte, who is also a member of the Executive Committee of ASOGRAS, only survived the ordeal because the men were unable to start the fire at her home outside of the town of Sabana de Torres in the Colombian region of Santander.

The attack comes only days after the April 9th attempt on the life of Cesar Augusto Tamayo, the President of ASOGRAS, by the same four men. On that occasion the group had arrived at his home to kill him but found that he had already fled after neighbours had informed him that a death squad were looking for him. Mr Tamayo, who has long suffered persecution at the hands of local paramilitary groups, has since fled his residence to the regional capital of Bucaramanga.

In January this year two members of ASOGRAS, Diego Ricardo Rasedo and Leovigildo Mejia were assassinated, also in Sabana de Torres and since 2004 the union's leading activists, including all of their Executive Committee members, have received constant death threats.

In a separate incident, also in Santander, on April 2nd a threat arrived from paramilitaries at the regional office of the CUT trade union federation in the city of Bucaramanga. The leaflet accused trade unionists in the region of being 'guerrillas' and 'terrorists' and said that the paramilitaries would soon begin to 'cleanse' the union movement. Among those trade unionists named were David Florez, Javier Correa, Martha Dias, Juan Badillo, Cesar Plazas and William Rivera all of whom have been the objects of previous threats.

For more on the situation in Santander as well as some of those individuals mentioned above see:

March 2009: Mass Arbitrary Detention of Peasant Farmers in Colombia

Jan 2009: Trade Unionist Killed Following Paramilitary Death Threat

Jan 2009: Disappeared Trade Unionist Found Murdered

Dec 2008: Mass Detention Follows Threats and Killings in Colombian Region of Santander

April 2008: Death Threats against Regional Trade Union Leaders and Human Rights Defenders

Feb 2008 Death Threats against Santander Trade Unionists

Oct 2007: Paramilitary Threats against Public Sector Workers

Sep 2007: Son of Trade Unionist Kidnapped and Tortured



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