No guarantee of rights

Same as last year


Colombia is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people

  • Murders and impunity

  • Union-busting and dismissals

Colombia remained the deadliest country for workers and union members, with thirteen assassinations in 2021-2022. Another six murder attempts and 99 deaths threats were recorded. Eight trade unionists were arbitrarily arrested. Most of these crimes remained unresolved, as the government failed to investigate the cases. Without any adequate protection provided to them, trade unionists and their families remained under constant threat to their lives.

Trade unions were also hindered in their activities as employers regularly violated workers’ right to form unions and got rid of workers’ representatives through targeted dismissals and non-renewal of contracts.

Workers' rights violations

Violent attacks on workers

In February 2022, as Quironsalud workers, a subsidiary of the German multinational Fresenius in Colombia, organised in a trade union and requested the opening of collective bargaining negotiations, Julian Parra and Claudia López, two of their elected leaders, received death threats. Claudia reported the details of these threats to local police, while Julian was forced to flee the country. International calls for Fresenius to publicly denounce these threats remained unheeded.


On the morning of 26 November 2021, Clemito Rengifo Salazar, a grassroots worker of the Sindicato de Maestros de Nariño (SIMANA), was carrying out his duties as an educator at the San Francisco de Asís Madrigal Educational Institution, in Policarpa (department of Nariño), when unidentified men abducted him from the school, in the presence of his students. His lifeless body was found later in the afternoon hours.


On 14 May 2021, Felipe Andrés Pérez Pérez, union leader of SINALTRAINAL Seccional Envigado, was murdered in Medellín as he was coming back from a protest held in the framework of the national strike.


This year, thirteen trade unionists were victims of targeted assassinations in Colombia.

On 11 August 2021, Carlos Fredy Londoño Bautista, a member of the Asociación de Educadores del Meta Adem-Fecode affiliate, was murdered as he was about to start his working day in Fuente de Oro, Meta. On the morning of 11 August, Carlos Freddy went to the school where he worked, and on the way he was approached by assassins on a motorcycle. They shot him four times in front of some of his students.

Violent attacks on workers

On 12 August 2021, union leaders of the National Union of Food Workers in Colombia, SINTRAIMAGRA and SINALTRAINAL, were threatened in Bugalagrande, Valle. On entering the headquarters of the Bugalagrande branch of SINTRAIMAGRA, the secretary found an envelope with a leaflet headed Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia and below with the logo of Las Águilas Negras, Bloque Occidental de Colombia, and a USB in which the following trade unionists were designated as “military targets”: Edwin Mejía, Francisco Vásquez, Fernando Castaño, Carlos Soto, Juan Camilo Jaramillo, Andrés Rubio, Onofre Esquivel, Wilson Riaño, Luis Herbert Peñaloza, Frank Acevedo, Gustavo Bedoya and Martin Agudelo.

Violent attacks on workers

On 29 April 2021, during demonstrations in the municipality of Copacabana, Antioquia (Colombia), a teacher and activist of the Antioquia Teachers' Association (Adida) was recording a police procedure with his mobile phone camera. At that moment, he was assaulted by members of the national police, who took his mobile phone and beat him. Subsequently, when he went to the police headquarters to claim his mobile phone, he was arbitrarily detained.

Violent attacks on workers

In Colombia, on 25 November 2021, on the eve of the elections for the designation of the leadership of the union Guincheros, Maquinistas y Grúas Móviles, the head of the union, Roberto Coria, who was seeking re-election, was the victim of an attempt on his life at the door of his home, where he was shot and sustained injuries. Days earlier there had been a similar attempt on his life, which was foiled because the assailant's weapon misfired. The attempts on Coria’s life were linked to the union elections, and it is believed that the attacks were perpetrated by a yellow union supported by the employers.

Right to civil liberties

In the early hours of the 27th of May 2021, a simultaneous police operation was carried out in several municipalities in the department of Arauca, Colombia. Several trade union leaders of the Arauca Campesino Association (ACA), a FENSUAGRO affiliate, were arrested without motive: Anderson Rodríguez Rodríguez, ACA president; Jhon Alexander Romero, vice president and human rights secretary of ACA; Camilo Espinel, education secretary of ACA and councillor of the municipality of Saravena; Fredy Camargo, councillor of Fortul and coordinator of the Technical Committee of ACA; Ruth Pita, councillor of Fortul and ACA associate; Helbert Alonso Ramírez Castro, ACA associate and accountant; and Samuel Acosta, ACA associate and member of the Tame Veredal Committee.

Right to justice

In Colombia, the pervasive climate of repression, physical violence and intimidation against workers and trade unionists was compounded by the government’s failure to pursue the many historic cases of murders and other violent crimes. The labour justice system remained broken, and only a handful of the hundreds of murder cases were solved, usually many years later.

Colombia, with 13 assassinations, is the deadliest country for workers and union members, but working people continued to oppose the government’s far-right agenda.Juan Barreto / AFP

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