Colombia: unionist threatened, campesino leader seized

Colombian union sources report that Alejandro Betancur, president of the Union of Mining Industry Workers (SINTRAMINEROS) in the northwestern department of Antioquia, received a death threat by telephone on July 26 in connection with his union activities. According to Carlos Julio, president of Colombia’s Unitary Workers Central (CUT), Betancur was threatened because of his efforts on behalf of about 100 miners employed by companies belonging to Industrial Hullera, which is now in liquidation. The dispute, which has gone on for 13 years, concerns labor rights and pensions. (El Mundo, Medellín, July 31; Adital, Brazil, July 29)

Also in Antioquia, the Campesino Association of the Lower Cauca (ASOCBAC) charged on July 29 that José Alcides Ochoa, president of the Communal Action group in the village of El Rayo in Tarazá municipality, was illegally detained that morning by troops from the 25th Mobile Brigade of the army’s Seventh Division. ASOCBAC called for the Public Ministry to locate Alcides Ochoa immediately and to start an investigation into the detention. The group is also asking for activists to write to Colombian president Álvaro Uribe Vélez ( ), president elect Francisco Santos ( ) and other officials to demand an end to human rights abuses by the 25th Mobile Brigade and other military units. (ASOCBAC urgent action, July 29 via Colombia Indymedia; El Mundo, July 31)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 1.

See our last post on Colombia.