Campaign against violence in Urabá

Death and impunity run rampant once
again in this tormented region


A fierce storm was raging in Urabá last Tuesday, August 22. The wind and rain were coming down hard on the Indigenous community of Currulao, municipality of Turbo, ripping away dozens of rooftops and cutting off the electric power, so that the village was cloaked in total darkness. It was then that a group of eight people, armed for combat, emerged from the river, led by two hooded characters that marched through the village pointing out the houses of the condemned. Three women and three men, allegedly involved with –or relatives of– demobilized paramilitaries, were murdered in the three hours it took the armed group to complete its raid. The government claims that the chaos caused by the extreme weather conditions prevented police forces from taking any action, and that they are still trying to determine the identity of the attackers. While one version blames the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), another points to a settling of scores between bands connected with rival paramilitary and/or drug trafficking factions.


What’s undeniable is that violence is once again running rampant and with impunity in this region, with an escalating number of murders and future retaliations that put the area’s civilians, banana workers, and social and labor leaders in a hostage situation, particularly the last group, as violence always hits activists the worst.


Given this intolerable situation and even worst prospect, the IUF’s Latin American Regional Office, Rel-UITA, is initiating a new international campaign against violence in Urabá, and is sending an open letter to the President of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe Vélez demanding that his government fulfill its constitutional, political and social obligation, guaranteeing the right to life and dignity of the people of Urabá.


Letter to the President of Colombia


Secretaría Regional Latinoamericana de la

Unión Internacional de Trabajadores de la Alimentación,

Agrícolas, Hoteles, Restaurantes, Tabaco y Afines


Montevideo, August 27, 2007


To the President of the Republic of Colombia

Dr. Álvaro Uribe Vélez



Subject: Escalating Violence in Urabá – Antioquia


Mr. President,


We have received the statement issued by our affiliates in Colombia, the National Agro-Food Union (UNAC) and the National Union of Agroindustry Workers (SINTRAINAGRO), as well as the news reporting the new massacre committed last Tuesday, August 21, in the Indigenous settlement of Currulao, municipality of Turbo.


This horrendous and deplorable crime demonstrates that the continuous denunciation by numerous organizations, both Colombian and international, and their appeals to your Government to bring security, justice and peace with social development to the region of Urabá, have gone unheeded, and, instead, the selective murder of banana workers has started up again, along with threats against unionists, and, now, massacres, like the one in Currulao, are being perpetrated with absolute impunity under the very noses of the authorities.


In the past, the IUF conducted a huge international campaign in favor of human rights and life in the region of Urabá, when violent illegal armed groups had declared a “war of annihilation” against workers and union leaders, following the peace process signed with the People’s Liberation Army (EPL).


Criminal acts had diminished considerably since then, but now, faced with the reemergence of the same atrocities, we will launch a new denunciation campaign to force your Government to fulfill its constitutional mandate of protecting the life, honor and rights of its citizens.


We demand that the Executive Branch, the Public Prosecutor, the Attorney General, and the Office of the People’s Advocate take urgent and effective actions to once and for all eradicate violence and its perpetrators from Urabá, through the timely and efficient administration of justice and the application of a social investment program, which has always been lacking in that region of the country. 


Yours sincerely,


Gerardo Iglesias

IUF Regional Secretary



With copy to:

National Public Prosecutor, Dr. Mario Iguaran Arana / National Attorney General,

Dr. Edgardo Maya Villazón / People’s Advocate, Dr. Wolmar Pérez /





Wilson Ferreira Aldunate 1229 Ofic. 201, Montevideo, Uruguay

Tel: (5982) 9007473 - 9021048 / Fax: 9030905  -




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