Jump to main content
IndustriALL logotype

IndustriALL condemns murder of USO member in Colombia

Read this article in:

16 May, 2024Young worker Jhon Jarry Vargas Sarabia has been murdered in Colombia. IndustriALL and Unión Sindical Obrera (USO) call on the authorities to investigate the motives behind the killing.

Jhon Jarry Vargas Sarabia was killed on 9 May in the municipality of Tibú in the department of Norte de Santander, Colombia. He was a young mechanical engineer working for Masa & Stork, a maintenance contractor for Ecopetrol, and a member of USO. He had three children and was well-liked in his community and at work.

USO has said it does not know the motives for his murder. Said USO president, César Loza:

“The colleague murdered was a member of USO but was not a union representative. We do not know the motives for the murder, nor whether it was a politically-motivated crime or a common crime.”

This murder adds to the long list of social and trade union activists who have lost their lives to violence in Colombia. According to a report by the Human Rights and Conflict Observatory of the Colombian Institute for Development and Peace Studies (INDEPAZ), 64 human rights defenders, social leaders and peace agreement signatories have been killed in 2024.

On 12 May, the USO’s National Commission for Human Rights and Peace called for a mobilisation in Tibú to denounce the murder of Jhon Jarry Vargas Sarabia, and called on the whole community, the country, Ecopetrol, Masa & Stork and the social and political forces of Colombia to condemn the killing.

In a statement, the Commission said:

“Under no circumstances can we, the USO, the authorities or the people of Tibú, allow the crime against Jhon Jarry to open a crack through which a wave of violence could burst and break the unity for the recovery of our territory, the reconstruction of the social fabric and the transformations needed to ensure peace with social and environmental justice, which is what brings us together and unites us around a regional agenda and a shared horizon.”

Ecopetrol called for respect for human rights, especially the right to life and freedom of association, and reaffirmed its rejection of any behaviour that violates the law or national and international procedures and standards.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary, Atle Høie, said:

“IndustriALL calls on the relevant authorities to lead the investigations and judicial actions required to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of this tragic crime. We deplore the murder of Jhon Jarry Vargas Sarabia and demand that the Colombian government provide every guarantee of security for his family, members of the union and the community in general.”