Despite the government’s promises, Colombians continue to suffer death threats and harassment

With Sonia Judith Vásquez
Despite the government’s promises, Colombians continue to suffer death threats and harassment 


-When did the death threats start?
-On December 28, 2010, I received a telephone call, threatening me. But I refused to take it seriously. Then, on January 23, I had a similar threat. And on April 5 it happened again, this time through a text message to my cell phone.

-What did the message say?
-That they knew where I worked. They also threatened my husband and children, said I had to drop the cases I’m working on or else. In addition to these threats, I’ve been harassed by men who drive by my house on motorcycles to intimidate me. My neighbors have told me they go by and look insistently at my house. 

-You work for several unions and also for the organization Fundación Manos Muertas, right?
-I’m a legal advisor for seven unions: Sintratucar, Astrinal, Sinaltrainal, Sinaltrametal, Sintralimenticia, Sinaninal, and Ustrial. I’m also the human rights legal representative of Fundación Manos Muertas, an organization that defends women who have suffered the appalling working conditions common in several Cartagena companies. 

So it’s hard to say which of the cases I’m working on have prompted the threats or who’s making them. 

-But there are several other union leaders who have been threatened lately.
-That’s right. 

-It’s an alarming situation…
-It is and as I’ve reported it to the Prosecutor’s Office, the Colombian government cannot ignore the agreement recently signed by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos with the government of the United States, whereby he undertook to provide safeguards human rights and labor activity and promote their development.