Murder of school principal is latest act of violence against teachers

A teacher was found murdered in his home on Monday 27 April. Jairo de Jesús Jiménez was the principal of the Zoila Duque Baena educational institute in Abejorral in the department of Antioquia. The school had performed very well in official rankings under Jairo’s management.

In February, the Antioquia teachers union warned of an increase in threats and violence against teachers in the region, after paramilitaries forcibly displaced 15 staff members from a school there. It came amid a spate of attacks against teachers across Colombia that prompted British and Irish education unions to issue a statement condemning violence against sector workers.

According to a former colleague, Oscar Duque, Jairo was ‘a great leader who always worked in the rural sector’ and sought to protect the rights of rural communities. The FECODE teachers union, Colombia’s largest trade union, called on authorities to launch an urgent investigation into the crime.

At least 161 teachers received threats in 2019, with another 20 threats issued up to February of this year. Between 1986 and 2016, according to FECODE, 990 teachers were murdered, while more than 3,000 received threats. Ending violence against teachers, as well as other trade unionists and social leaders, remains a core demand of periodic nationwide strikes organised by education workers.