Another Colombian labor leader has been gunned down, a chilling reminder of the realities of organized labor in that country. The killing comes just weeks before the US Congress will vote on a trade agreement with Colombia.
An official of a union representing university employees in the northwestern Colombian province of Cordoba was murdered, the CUT labor federation said Tuesday.
Luis Diaz Villa was fatally shot Monday night on a street in Monteria, the provincial capital.
The victim was vice president of the Cordoba local of the Sintraunicol union, CUT regional leader Eleazar Perez told Efe from Monteria.
Diaz Villa was linked to the University of Cordoba, an institution that suffered in the past from the activities of right-wing militias, blamed by Perez for the deaths of “more than 100 union and student leaders and of a candidate for the post of dean.”
Diaz Villa at one point had an agreement for police protection, but it was withdrawn.
In 2008 Barack Obama said in a Presidential debate that “the history in Colombia right now is that labor leaders have been targeted for assassination on a fairly consistent basis and there have not been prosecutions.” This is still the history in Colombia. And while the President claimed to have put in some enforcement mechanisms to improve the labor environment there, those meant little to Luis Diaz Villa. There is no free exercise of unionization in that country. There is no freedom of assembly. And by signing a trade deal, the United States would essentially bless that environment for labor in Colombia.
The CUT labor federation has demanded a “prompt investigation” of the murder of Diaz Villa.