IndustriALL Global Union is outraged at the threats received by trade union leader Rodolfo Vecino Acevedo, a member of the national executive committee of the Colombian oil workers’ union, USO, an IndustriALL affiliate.
Rodolfo Vecino Acevedo received a letter that threatens to kill him and all his family if he does not leave the country within one week. The letter was sent by the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a paramilitary group formed in 2008. The letter criticizes his trade union activities and claims that they “obstruct the plans of companies and their economic development”.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time he has received such threats. USO has had to repeatedly denounce such letters to the public prosecutor and the police. However, the union says the authorities have failed to conduct any investigation.
Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL General Secretary, has written to Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia, asking him to intervene immediately; take the necessary measures; and ensure that the country’s judiciary takes action in response to the paramilitary group’s death threats.
This incident again illustrates the huge restrictions to freedom of association and expression, as well as the intense level of repression in Colombia, placing the country among the ten worst countries for workers on the 2016 ITUC Global Rights Index.
“It is inconceivable that progress is being made in the peace process in Colombia to build a future without fear, reprisals and insecurity while people are still allowed to issue this kind of threat and insult,” wrote Raina.
“In the name of IndustriALL’s 50 million members from all around the world, we make this special request to you to order the relevant authorities to find the people responsible, guarantee Rodolfo Vecino Acevedo’s right to life and to conduct trade union activities and provide guarantees for the protection of his life and that of his family,” said Raina in the letter to the Colombian President.