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In a letter to President Santos and Vice President Garzón, national president Paul Moist called on the Colombian government to protect trade unionists and human rights activists who have received death threats as part of a well-documented campaign of intimidation.


Recent Death Threats to Human Rights Defenders in the Cauca Valley

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents over 600,000 women and men in Canada and we have worked for many years with Colombian unionists and community activists in defending human and labour rights in your country.

We are very concerned that once again, individuals associated with our long standing partners at the Association for Research and Social Action (NOMADESC) and the University Workers’ Union, Cali Section (SINTRAUNICOL) have received death threats.  These new threats follow the recent public event organized by human rights organizations and unions in Cali to commemorate December 10, Human Rights Day.  Threats were received between December 11 and December 14 and are part of a well-documented campaign of intimidation.

We are very worried for the safety of the human rights defenders Martha Giraldo, Cristina Castro, Ayda Quilcué and Berenice Celeyta and other members of the MOVICE-Fundación Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos-Seccional Valle de Cauca-CSPP, Asociación para la investigación y Acción Social-NOMADESC, SINTRAUNICOL Subdirectiva Cali and Red de Hermandad y Solidaridad con Colombia-Nodo Valle de Cauca.

It is very disturbing to hear of this continued harassment and violence in light of the promises made by your government and the Canadian government following conclusion of the free trade agreement between our two countries. 

Further, representatives from CUPE along with hundreds of delegates at the recent Public Services International conference in Cartagena heard directly from your government representative that steps would be taken by the new government to stop the violence and end impunity for the perpetrators.

We ask your government to take immediate action to protect the life of those threatened and to investigate these threats.  We ask that the Colombian state provide a clear response in order to stop whatever attempt may be made against the members of the threatened organizations and to take measures to prevent further human rights violations in this area.  We demand respect for the right to life and guarantees for exercising the defence of human rights.


Yours truly,


National President
Canadian Union of Public Employees