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President of the CUT in Caldas, Colombia, escapes attempt on his life

20 November, 2013IndustriALL Global Union condemns the attack on Óscar Arturo Orozco, president of the Caldas branch of the union central CUT and the electrical workers’ union SINTRAELECOL and calls on its affiliates to take solidarity action.

The attack took place when Óscar Orozco was driving home on the night of 13 November. The car window was hit by bullets and Orozco suffered cuts to the neck and the left hand. Immediately after the attack, Orozco reported the attack to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and requested a ballistics report on the car.

Oscar Orozco said: “this regrettable event is the latest in a series of attacks we have denounced in recent months and we hold the government responsible for our physical integrity and lives. We demand that these attacks be investigated and those responsible are quickly brought to justice”.  

Orozco is a prominent social and trade union activist in the department of Caldas and has suffered four attacks in recent years, including letter bombs. On 4 August 2012, the CUT Caldas president and secretaries were victims of an attack while en route to a meeting of fisherfolk and miners in the district of Arauca. No attempt was made to examine the vehicle they were in or to investigate what happened. “One year later, the prosecutor did a U-turn and charged the victims themselves on the basis of what must certainly be false-positive test results. We call on supporters to follow this case because it seems that having escaped an attempt on their lives, the victims face the prospect of being put behind bars by the prosecutor and the Defender of the People”, said a spokesperson for the union.

This indicates that a new method for persecuting trade unions is taking shape in Colombia, in which leaders are put on trial to answer fabricated charges. In this case, a court in Medellin has charged Orozco with organising an attack on himself. He is, of course, the victim of persecution by the government, which has fabricated charges against him in an attempt to silence his fight for an equal and fair society and against the policies of hunger promoted by the multinationals and their accomplice, the government.

IndustriALL calls on its affiliates to take solidarity action on behalf of our colleague, Óscar Orozco, and write letters of protest to the Colombian authorities, demanding that they investigate and punish the physical and intellectual authors of these attacks and put an end to impunity for crimes against trade unionists and members of other social movements in Colombia (see attached note).

Pablo Emilio Santos Nieto, national president of SINTRAELECOL said: “we are very concerned for the life of our colleague, Orozco. Providing another couple of police escort cars is not enough, we are asking for an end to impunity for these crimes”.