Dreadful toll of assassinations mounts in Colombia

published 18 March 2010 updated 18 March 2010

Colombian teacher Duvian Dario Rojo Cadavid and his wife were enjoying an early evening walk together in the municipal park of their home town of Puerto Berrío when they were shot dead by unknown assailants on 13 March, the day before senatorial elections. Their deaths bring the total number of teachers killed in Colombia in 2010 to six.

According to his local union ADIDA, Rojo Cavidad was targeted generally for his union activism and specifically because last week he openly spoke to the media about the fact that at least 30 local teachers had been subjected to extortion by illegal armed groups.

The Federación Colombiana de Educadores(FECODE) has publicly denounced these latest killings to a broad range of officials in the Ministries of Education, Justice, Social Protection, the Interior, the Public Defender and the President of the Republic, demanding that Colombian authorities guarantee free exercise of trade union activities and that they undertake all necessary investigations to break the chain of impunity that typically characterises the murder of teachers and trade unionists.

Education International joins FECODE in denouncing in the strongest terms this latest atrocious killing, and expressing its deepest sympathy with the family of Duvian Dario Rojo Cadavid and his wife, colleagues and students, along with the leaders and members of ADIDA, and the education community in Puerto Berrío.

“The teachers of Colombia are not alone,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “They have the strong support and solidarity of educators around the world. Together we will continue to defend respect for the human and trade union rights of all Colombians, and especially those who have made the courageous and often dangerous decision to join the teaching profession out of their commitment to building a better future through education.”

On 7-8 April, EI and FECODE will hold a workshop on human and trade union rights in the capital city, Bogotá. Twenty eight local human rights coordinators from FECODE will take part.

In addition, on 16 March EI’s Pan-European structure unanimously passed an emergency motion in opposition to the proposed EU-Colombia free trade agreement.

“It is abhorrent that the European Union should be considering engaging in free trade with a regime condemned around the world for human rights abuses and particularly the targeting of trade unions,” the committee members agreed.

They called on EI and all its affiliates to use all avenues of influence to campaign against the proposed free trade agreement with Colombia, to raise awareness of the struggle of the Colombian trade union movement and to investigate any opportunities for solidarity activities.