Threats Against Colombian Food and Drink Workers Trade Union Activists

News from Colombia | on: Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Two leading members of the Colombian trade union SINALTRAINAL have been threatened by rightwing paramilitaries who, in one case, also told the union leader that her family would be targeted too because of her union work. The threats, which targeted leaders of the 'El Paso' branch of the union, are considered extremely serious given that four SINALTRAINAL members have been murdered since 2002 despite the union only having a few hundred members.

The union suspects that the May 17th threat against Lenis Romero Rivera, which arrived via text message, may be connected to the fact that he is currently involved in pay negotiations with the food and drink firm 'Compania Andina de Alimentos Vinos Espirituosos SA', where he is attempting to negotiate better terms and conditions for employees.

Just five days previously, on May 12th, his colleague, Lixy Corzo Arias, another active SINALTRAINAL member who sits on the regional Executive of the union received a phone call in which she was told "We know where your son and your family is, you should be aware of the consequences of what you are doing."

SINALTRAINAL activists who have been assassinated in recent years include:

Jose Jesus Marin Vargas, killed 22nd November 2007 in the town of Dosquebradas in the region of Risaralda. A father of two, he had worked at the local Nestle plant for 33 years and had been active in the union for 30 years.

Carlos Arturo Montes Bonilla, killed 17th August 2006 by soldiers of the 7th Battalion of the Colombian Army near his home in the city of Barrancabermeja.

Luciano Enrique Romero Molina, killed 11th September 2005 in the city of Valledupar in the region of Cesar. He was last seen on the evening of September 10th and was found dead the following morning tied up and with 46 stab wounds. He had worked at the local Nestle plant for 20 years but had recently been sacked for his trade union activities. In 2004 he had been forced to live for a short time in Spain after receiving numerous death threats in Colombia for his trade union work.

Adolfo de Jesus Munero Lopez, killed 31st August 2002 in front of his mother's house in the city of Barranquilla. He had previously worked at the Coca-Cola plant in the city and was the Vice President of the CUT trade union federation in the region as well as a community leader in the neighbourhood in which he lived.

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