Trade Union Leader Imprisoned

News from Colombia | on: Monday, 24 January 2011

The criminalisation of trade union activity continued this month with yet another high-profile activist detained and imprisoned. Aracely Cañaveral Velez, a well known trade union leader, was detained in Medellin on the 17th of January. She has been accused of several crimes, including “rebellion” – the catch-all charge regularly used against trade unionists and other activists.

Ms Cañaveral, a single mother, was arrested as she left the CUT office in the city of Medellin, and was transferred at dawn on the 18th of January to the city of Cartagena, 703km away.

She left behind her a school age daughter and an elderly mother for whom she is the only carer. In similar cases, trade unionists have spent months and even years in prison, before being eventually released due to lack of evidence. Ms Cañaveral’s colleagues have expressed serious concern for the future wellbeing of her family, given that she is the sole provider.

Three student leaders and human rights defenders have also been detained linked to the same case. Angye Gaona was detained on the 13th January, and Julian Andoni Dominguez and William Rivera Rueda on the 17th.

Ms Velez has been a trade unionist for over 20 years, having been a leading member of textile unions SINTRALEONISA and SINTRATEXTIL in the past, and now a leading figure in the Informal Workers’ Union, ASOTRACOMERCIANT, a CUT affiliate. She is also the coordinator of NEPO – a trade union and community education school in Medellin.



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