23 January, 2012
The ICEM has responded with anger and outrage over the latest cold-blooded murder of a trade unionist in Colombia. Mauricio Redondo, 36, and his wife, Janeth Ordóñez Carlosama, were murdered in their home in the village of Teteyé, in the southern department of Putumayo, on 17 January at 19h30 by two gunmen.
Mauricio Redondo was a provincial leader of ICEM Colombia affiliate Unión Sindical Obrera (USO) and both he and his wife were activists in a community group that advocated for better working conditions, environmental stewardship, and labour and human rights in the booming oil and natural gas fields of the Putumayo basin in southwest Colombia.
In fact, four days before the killings at a meeting in the municipality of Orito, at a forum called Primer Foro Petrolero por el Derecho al Trabajo, la Reivindicación Social y Económica de Orito, Redondo was an active speaker in talks to open public protests over these issues. According to initial reports, the two gunmen were wearing work uniforms of the local oil contracting company Empresa de Energía del Bajo Putumayo, EEEP (Energy Company of Lower Putumayo) and fired multiple gunshots into the couple. Redondo and Ordóñez are survived by five young children.
“Once again we witness the price that dedicated trade unionists in Colombia pay when they attempt to stand up for a dignified way of life,” said General Secretary Manfred Warda, who was in Colombia when the murders happened.
“Along with USO, we mourn the grisly deaths of Mauricio Redondo and Janeth Ordóñez and we call on Colombia’s federal and provincial prosecution teams to extend all efforts in apprehending and bringing to justice those responsible.”
Mauricio Redondo was employed by Medellin-based P.E.I. Energy, an upstream oil and gas drilling company. He was a leader of the 220-member USO committee in Orito, in which 40% are employees of Ecopetrol and 60% employed by contract companies of the state-held energy company.
The deaths of the couple came just days after three other USO Orito leaders – Manuel Coronado, José Socimo Erazo and Julio Vargas – were threatened by calls made to their mobile telephones. It also came after a bomb threat was directed at the USO regional office in Orito.
Said Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT) Human Rights Director Alberto Vanegas, the worst aspect of the 17 January heinous crimes are that “five children were left as orphans. This is what we leave with such murders: orphans and widows throughout the country.”
The killings of Mauricio Redondo and Janeth Ordóñez mark the first murders of trade unionists in Colombia in 2012. In 2011, at least 29 trade union leaders were killed in calculated and cold-blooded political assassinations.