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6/9/10

Colombia, bastion of human rights

To celebrate the Clintons' (both of 'em) arrival and hangout in Colombia, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC, the world's biggest union body) released its annual survey of world deaths due to trade union activity today. Here's how the numbers look in chart form.

click to enlarge

According to ITUC, when it comes to The Americas:

There has been no improvement in the plight of trade unionists on the American continent, undoubtedly owing to the impunity enjoyed by those responsible for trade union rights violations. This is, in substance, the main conclusion that can be drawn from the "Americas" section of the International Trade Union Confederation’s 2010 report on trade union rights violations around the world. It is not surprising that this continent continues to be the most deadly for trade unionists, especially in Colombia, where 48 were killed this year alone.

The American continent has long been the scene of anti-union murders, chiefly in Colombia, Guatemala (16) and Honduras (12), together with abductions, death threats, attacks and even raids on trade unionists’ homes.

Whilst Latin America may have shown greater resistance to the financial turmoil than other parts of the world, the global financial and economic crises have had a profound impact on the region’s real economy. The ITUC annual survey explains that many governments, such as that of Costa Rica, have used the crisis as a pretext for further weakening trade union rights, adopting measures, for example, to increase labour flexibility.

In Colombia, the world’s most dangerous country for trade unionists (Colombia accounts for 60% of all the murders committed around the world on the grounds of trade union activities), the endemic climate of anti-unionism would appear to have become even more deeply rooted. In addition to the many reported murders, there are the cases that have not been registered, as well as the attempted murders, disappearances and death threats. Violence against women is also on the rise: five of the 48 trade unionists assassinated were women. The facts established in the ITUC report point clearly to the fact that the impunity enjoyed by those responsible for these crimes erases any hope of eradicating the anti-union climate in Colombia continues here.


This must be why Mish Shedlock extols the virtues of Colombia. The full ITUC report or the regional sections thereof can be downloaded here.