The IUF has called for urgent protective measures by the Colombian government following public threats by paramilitaries against trade union leaders it denounces as “guerillas in disguise”. Threatening leaflets signed by a notorious paramilitary group have been distributed in the department of Magdelena, where 9 union leaders have been murdered so far this year.
Tomás Rodríguez, a leader of the rural workers union SINTRAINAGRO, was assassinated in Magdalena in May. Some 750 leaders and members of SINTRAINAGRO, which organizes banana, palm oil, sugar and flower workers, have been murdered over the past decades.
The threats to trade unionists, which also denounce the government for allegedly being soft on alleged guerillas taking cover in mass organizations, take on heightened urgency in the context of the negotiations currently taking place in Havana between the Santos Government and the FARC. SINTRAINAGRO has expressed support for the negotiations but also insists on an end to the decades of impunity in the face of systematic violence against the labour movement.