Pittsburgh – United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard today condemned the unending violence and murder that has claimed the lives of 25 labor union members and activists so far this year in Colombia.
In a letter to Colombia President Alvara Uribe Velez, Gerard expressed grave concern about the latest killing. Gustavo Gomez, of SINALTRAINAL, a union that the USW has worked with for almost a decade, was gunned down in his home in Dosquebradas, Colombia on Aug. 21.
”We urge the Colombian government to investigate and punish the perpetrators and instigators of this crime and to protect the lives of members of SINALTRAINAL and their families,’’ Gerard wrote. Click here to download the entire letter.
The Colombia labor movement has been the target of an intimidation campaign without parallel in the contemporary world. Thousands of union leaders and activists have been assassinated there since the mid 1980s.
Gerard also expressed concern to President Uribe over the continued imprisonment of Alirio Garcia, a legal officer of the Colombian Agricultural Workers Union (FENSUAGRO) and his wife, Rosalba Gaviria Toro, a leading FENSUAGRO member.
The USW believes their imprisonment is both illegal and immoral and contravenes Colombia’s duty to uphold International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions guaranteeing workers the right to organize and bargain collectively without reprisal.
The USW represents 850,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada employed in the industries of metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service sector. For more information: www.usw.org/.