Unions and union leaders in Cali, Colombia’s third largest city, said Tuesday that they are receiving death threats from “Los Rastrojos,” one of the country’s most powerful neo-paramilitary forces.
Valle del Cauca
The letter is signed by the urban commandos of the “Los Rastrojos” from “somewhere in Valle del Cauca,” the state of which Cali is the capital city.
The threat reads, “The Rastrojos reserve the right to continue the fight for a country free from scum like you that all you do is lie to the people, teaching them communist doctrine contrary to our ideals and the promises of the state that favor the most needy.”
PROFILE: Los Rastrojos
A list of over 30 unions of civilians have allegedly been singled out as a “military objective” by the neo-paramilitaries who call the unionists “guerrillas,” and “union bureaucrats disguised as civilians.”
Among those listed in the pamphlet is food union Sinaltrainal.
Diego Rodriguez, president of the Cali branch of the union, told Colombia Reports that “I have been giving protection measures for the last four years and received a lot of risk assessments but nothing ever comes from the ministry of the interior. With this case, we don’t know if any action will be taken but we have denounced and done all the pertinent actions we could take. They do risk assessments and send officials but I personally never know of any results from these actions.”
Threatened union leaders don’t intend to stop fighting for worker’s rights because of this threat and hope the government can track down those responsible.
According to an interview by local media, Sintraine director, Jorge Ivan Velez, said “we reject these threats and will continue out righteous fight for the defense of the Valle del Cauca Patrimony represented by the public enterprises in Cali.”
Velez continues to point out the coincidence that immediately after a pacifist social movement that outlined the problems facing the city, they received these threats signed by the urban commandos of one of Colombia’s most dangerous drug trafficking neo-paramilitary groups.
- Interview with Diego Rodriguez
- Dirigentes sindicales de Cali denuncian amenazas (Youtube)