Health Workers Union Leader Murdered in Northern Colombia

News from Colombia | on: Friday, 26 June 2009

A member of the regional executive of the Colombian health workers trade union ANTHOC has been gunned down in front of his home in the Colombian city of Cucuta. Rafael Antonio Sepulveda, who was also active in the public servants union federation FENASER, was shot dead at around 9.30pm on Saturday whilst sitting with his partner on the porch in front of their home in the Quinta Bosch neighbourhood of the city. The victim, who was 41, worked in the Rudesindo Soto Psychiatric Hospital, also in Cucuta.

In a statement today the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) condemned the killing and pointed out that the ongoing murders contradict the statements made by the Colombian authorities earlier this month to the International Labour Organisation asserting that Colombia protects trade unionists.

"This murder once again proves that trade unionists' right to life and the free exercise of trade union activities are not guaranteed in Colombia," said Guy Ryder, the leader of the ITUC.

Mr Sepulveda is the 21st trade unionist to be murdered so far this year in Colombia. Last month his ANTHOC colleague Vilma Carcamo Blanco was killed in the town of Magangue in the department of Bolivar. On June 4th ANTHOC also announced that Dr Fernando Cardenas, a doctor in the city of Cartagena though not a member of the union, was murdered after an assassin shot him dead as he examined a patient in the Foco Rojo health centre in the city.

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