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Cablegate: Goc Reacts to Surge in Labor Violence

VZCZCXYZ0005
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1460 1121212
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211212Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2445
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8143
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0282
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ APR 9384
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6118
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1533
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6769
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4381

UNCLAS BOGOTA 001460

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL ECON SOCI CO
SUBJECT: GOC REACTS TO SURGE IN LABOR VIOLENCE

REF: A. A. BOGOTA 1017

B. B. BOGOTA 1197
C. C. BOGOTA 1432

1. (U) The murder rate of unionists in the first quarter of
the year has increased over 2007, with 19 reported cases to
date. If the rate continues at this pace, the total in 2008
will be 76, an increase over the 39 reported in 2007. Some
human rights groups link the surge in labor murders to
threats allegedly made by the Aguilas Negras against the
organizers of the March 6 march against paramilitary and
state violence. Eight murders have occurred since the event
(see reftels). March organizer Ivan Cepeda told us in
mid-March that only one of the four union victims was
directly involved in the march; three others belonged to
groups that supported the event. Since then, four other
unionists have been murdered. Others link the increase more
generally to the expansion of new criminal groups.

2. (SBU) The GOC issued a statement on April 7 condemning
the threats and offered an award to any information on the
perpetrators, noting that the Colombian National Police and
Prosecutor General's Office (Fiscalia) are investigating.
GOC officials, including Presidential Human Rights Director
Carlos Franco, met the march organizers after the threats to
talk about security measures. 19 of those
threatened--although none of the eight union victims killed
after the event--have received protection from the Minister
of Interior and Justice's protection program. (Note: 1959
union members currently participate in the Minister of
Interior and Justice's protection program.)

3. (SBU) National Director of the Fiscalia German Ortega
said the Fiscalia has arrested five individuals suspected of
involvement in trade unionist murders in 2008. On April 17,
CNP Director General Oscar Naranjo and Prosecutor General
Mario Iguaran briefed the diplomatic community on the Aguilas
Negras threats and union violence. Iguaran said that based on
the police's preliminary investigations, union-affiliation
does not appear to be the motive in any of the 19 union
homicides committed in 2008. In contrast, thee National
Union School (ENS) reports that it has not yet been able to
determine the motives behind the 2008 homicides. In 2007,
ENS said it could not ascertain the motives behind 80% of the
murders, threats, and other offenses committed against
unionists. The ENS attributes no union murders to common
crime.
BROWNFIELD

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