A total of three teachers were targets of assassination last February in Colombia. Two of them were killed, and one barely survived. EI voices its strong protest to the authorities, requesting a better protection of teachers facing threats to their lives.
The first victim was Guillermo Antonio Ramirez Ramirez, who was shot on 15 February in Belén de Umbría. He was a teacher since 1978 and member of the Sindicato de Educadores de Risaralda (SER). The second victim was Leoncio Gutiérrez, killed in Valle del Cauca on 20 February. He was member of the Sindicato Único de de Trabajadores de la Educación del Valle (SUTEV). The third was José Jair Valencia Agudelo, teacher in the Caldas department. Affiliated to the Educadores Unidos de Caldas (EDUCAL), he suffered an attempt on his life on 26 February but is struggling to survive in a hospital's intensive care.
These crimes are the latest additions to the long list of killings of teachers and trade unionists in Colombia, one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a trade unionist. EI's member organisation, the Federación Colombiana de Educadores (FECODE), demands the authorities to investigate the attacks and address the issue of impunity surrounding the assassinations. FECODE also denounces the fact that provincial authorities continue to ignore the Decree 3222 which allows teachers and workers experiencing threats to be re-assigned to a safer region. Passed in 2003, this decree, if implemented, would be a significant tool to guarantee the security and protection of Colombian teachers and trade unionists.
EI will continue to monitor the situation and give all the needed support to FECODE and its trade union partners.