Respecting Labor Rights Must Be Part of Building a Lasting Peace in Colombia

With unions from the Americas and Europe, the AFL-CIO is participating in the 6th Congress of the Central Union of Workers (CUT) Colombia, the country’s largest labor federation, from Sept. 23–26. The congress takes place as Colombia moves forward with a negotiation and peace-building process to end a 50-year conflict that has killed more than 170,000 civilians. The armed conflict has been used by the government for decades to systematically deny basic labor and human rights. More than 3,000 trade unionists were murdered by paramilitary, government and armed guerilla forces for exercising fundamental labor rights since 1987. In spite of strong recent economic growth, Colombia continues to have the third highest social inequality in Latin America after the much poorer countries of Haiti and Honduras. Any sustainable solution to this long-term crisis must include respect for workers’ rights and shared prosperity. 

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One Year into Enrique Peña Nieto's Government: Where Are All the Disappeared People?

This blog originally appeared on the Frontline Defenders Blog.

"The only thing we are asking is that the authorities act: results, nothing more. Until we find Héctor we won´t stop working. To a certain point we thought things would get better when the new President came in, and well, it´s been the opposite: it´s getting worse all the time. We still don´t know where they are. Everything has just been meetings upon meetings. But well, there are no results, and there is no commitment" Brenda Ivonne Rangel Ordiz, sister of Héctor Rangel Ordiz, disappeared 10/11/09, Coahuila.

In December 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto became President of Mexico on the back of a report by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) which, as with reports by Human frontline_defenders_blogAlma Garcia of the Fray Juan de Larios Diocesan Center for Human RightsRights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) published months later, proved what victims' families and human rights organisations had long since denounced: in Mexico 'enforced disappearances have occurred in the past and continue occurring in the present'.

The WGEID report confirmed that 'not all disappeared persons were abducted by independent organised criminal groups; the State is also involved in enforced disappearances in Mexico'. Reliable information, they said, proved the existence of 'forced disappearances carried out by public authorities, criminal groups or individuals with direct or indirect support from public officials'.

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Worrying Wave of Violence Against Human Rights Defenders in Oaxaca

This blog originally appeared on Peace Brigades International Mexico's website.

In Oaxaca human rights defenders are confronted with severe risks. Community and indigenous rights defenders are particularly vulnerable. They demand respect for their right to free, previous, and informed consultation in a context of apparent imposition of megaprojects, such as wind farms and the extractive industry...

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The Memory Boom in Putumayo, Colombia

“Colombia is a model for the region,” then-Senator John Kerry told the public during his January 2013 confirmation hearing for Secretary of State. Thanks to an aggressive counterinsurgency program, aided by billions of dollars in U.S. funding, Kerry and others in Washington argue that Colombia has been transformed. Rather than a model, however, the Women’s Alliance of Putumayo and others prove that the region is a cautionary tale, documenting those changes the thousands of human rights abuses that occurred here.

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Purely Pineapples: Aerial Spraying Continues to Miss Its Target in Colombia

We heard from our longtime LAWG partner Nancy Sánchez, who has worked many years in Putumayo, Colombia, about this sorry case of fumigation of pineapple crops of the Association of Women Pineapple growers, Oroyaco Hamlet, Municipality of Villagarzon, Putumayo.

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A Widow Fights for Justice While the Colombian Government Talks About Reparations

The police tried to impede Trinidad Ruiz from looking for the bodies of her husband and son
. They were disappeared by paramilitary forces on March 23, 2012.  Manuel Ruiz, age 56, and Samir Ruiz, age 15, were executed. Their bodies were dumped in a river and discovered more than four days later by the surviving members of the Ruiz family who were accompanied by Colombian and international human rights organizations. More than eight months later, Mrs. Ruiz and her family are still searching for justice in the highest profile murder of 2012 in Colombia.....

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Terror on the Patuca River, Honduras


On May 11 in rural Honduras, a late-night anti-narcotic mission involving American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents and U.S.-owned equipment resulted in the death of four people—two of them pregnant women, a fourteen-year-old boy and a 21-year-old man.  One of the leading Honduran human rights organizations, COFADEH, released this detailed report, calling the event “unacceptable and reprehensible.”

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