Colombia the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist!


THE life expectancy of Colombians has been reduced by at least two years as a result of the country’s armed conflict and violence related to drug trafficking, said the country’s National Health Observatory (ONS) on Tuesday.

Life expectancy is most often measured using a series of public health studies which give insights into the living conditions of the population.

However, in the case of Colombia, the number of homicides has long been so high that it has affected the life expectancy of citizens, especially of males.

What would Colombia’s current life expectancy be if the country’s history had not been crossed by the presence of organised crime and illegal armed groups such as the FARC and the AUC?

To answer this question, the ONS was put to the task of reviewing the numbers of murders from 1998-2012.

According to their analysis, if the country had not suffered so many violent deaths, the Colombian people today may have two more years of life expectancy, i.e. about 81.5 years.

When violence within Colombia was at its peak in the 1980s, the life expectancy of men was a mere 72.8 years.

The ONS suggested that if it wasn’t for the violent deaths and homicides during that time, the life expectancy could have been almost five years higher at 77 years.

Since 1998, cases of men dying as a result of homicide or violence accounted for 91.9% (304,643) of all deaths.

The study showed that people most affected were young people living in urban areas. The study also found that those who did not finish primary education made up the largest number of victims.

The Director of the ONS Carlos Castaneda said that ‘this indicates that the key to avoiding high homicide rates could be to enhance a more effective education system’.

That the South American country is still the most dangerous place to be a trade unionist has again been underlined.

Colombia’s oil workers union, Union Sindical Obrera de la Indusdria del Petroleo (USO), said on Tuesday that just this month two of its leaders have been attacked while another 11 received death threats.

According to the USO workers union, its leadership received ‘a series of threats’ while regional union leaders in the north and northeast Colombia were physically attacked.

‘The worrying thing is that the regional and national authorities, like (state-run oil company) Ecopetrol increasingly assume an attitude of indifference,’ said the USO, adding that ‘what consequently prevails is the indolence and complicit silence’.

The USO said that one leader from the northeastern town of Tame, Arauca and another from the northern city of Cartagena were victims of assassination attempts.

In both cases, the vehicles in which they were driving were attacked by hitmen, the union claimed.

Additionally, 11 union leaders from across the country allegedly received death threats in the first weeks of the year.

According to the union, the threats and attacks are happening ‘across the country, systematically and maintaining similar characteristics’.

The USO said some of the threats were signed by neo-paramilitary group ‘Los Urabeños’ and that it suspects the violence is coordinated centrally.

‘What is suspicious is that the authorities remain inactive, do not investigate, do not act and assume a simple attitude of complicit and passive observation,’ said the USO.

According to the oil workers’ organisation, it has not received any response to complaints about anti-union violence and threats made in 2014 when a total of 150 rights workers, journalists and leftist politicians received death threats.

Meanwhile, Cuban President Raúl Castro said on Wednesday that his country will continue supporting the peace efforts implemented by the government of Colombia and the insurgent Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC).

In his speech in the Third Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) in Costa Rica, the Cuban president highlighted progress made in the peace talks, ongoing in Havana since November 2012.

Never before had such progress been made in the direction of achieving peace in Colombia, he said.

He added that Cuba will continue providing necessary facilities and contributing in everything possible to the end of that conflict and the construction of stable, lasting peace in that South American country.

This summit, which opened on Wednesday in the city of Belen near the Costa Rican capital, is being attended by presidents and high-ranking officials from the 33 countries that are members of Celac, a pro-integration mechanism not including the United States and Canada.~

Its main topic is regional integration and the struggle against poverty under the slogan ‘Building Together’.~

• The beginning of a new form of cooperation between the people and the Bolivarian Armed Forces to face the economic war imposed on the country by right wingers in the country is at the core of the Venezuelan political situation, a presidential statement said on Wednesday.

The population in all states is getting ready to implement, even in municipalities and parishes, the relevant replicas of the Civic-Military General Staff, set up on Tuesday in Miranda and Distrito Capital (Capital District) by President Nicolas Maduro.

The new mechanism will improve the current battle against stockpiling, speculation and smuggling, implemented by the right-wing bourgeoisie, supported by the United States, according to the announcement by the head of State.

Maduro called the national productive sectors to assume honest commitment to this battle and cited as an example of double standards the case of a businessman, a chicken producer who promised to contribute to self-sufficiency of that product and then he reacted against the government.

According to the president, the bourgeoisie that still prevails in Venezuela is characterised by using its economic resources to control the will of those who have shown their intention to negotiate with the government for the country’s progress.

The president called the people to support the new General Staff