Because the campaign against unionists and activists is so blatant and murderous in Colombia, these folks are often provided with bodyguards or allowed to have them. In the past, the Colombian government has tried to strip unionists of this protection, or replace trusted bodyguards with agents of the state or paramilitaries. A more obvious strategy is simply to use the paramilitaries to kill the trusted bodyguards, and that was the strategy taken against a SINTRAMETAL (metalworker’s union) bodyguard and his wife on June 22. Details below.
Policy of the extermination of trusted bodyguards of Union Leaders continues in the Cauca Valley, Colombia.
Assassinated: SINTRAMETAL BODYGUARD HUGO FERNANDO CASTILLO SANCHEZ AND HIS WIFE DIANA XIMENA ZUÑIGA
JUNE 23rd 2004.
The Trade Union of the Pacific Iron and Steel Company SINTRAMETAL YUMBO, The Association for Social Research and Action, NOMADESC and the participating organisations in the “National and International Campaign Against Privatisation, Corruption and the Criminalisation of Social Protest: FORBIDDEN TO FORGET” denounce before the National and International community the brutal assassinations of bodyguard HUGO FERNANDO CASTILLO SANCHEZ and his wife DIANA XIMENA ZUÑIGA. We appeal to that you demand of the Colombian Government that they put a stop to the violent attacks against bodyguards of trade union leaders and defenders of human rights in the Cauca Valley, Colombia.
1.. At 10:30pm on Tuesday the 22nd of June 2004, HUGO FERNANDO CASTILLO SANCHEZ, his wife DIANA XIMENA ZUÑIGA, their four year old son JUAN FERNANDO CASTILLO and five year old nice NICOL CASTILLO were waiting for food in their car outside the drive-thru restaurant “YOGUI” on the Calle 27 with Kr 31ª in the Jardin neighborhood. A grey Mazda 323 X car with blacked out windows pulled up and a black male got out and firing multiple shots at the couple in the car in front of the two children.
2.. HUGO FERNANDO CASTILLO SANCHEZ was a bodyguard assigned to the Home Office Special Protection Program for trade unionists and human rights defenders. He had been working for the program for the past three years as an agent of the Security Administration Department (DAS) and was assigned to The Trade Union of the Pacific Iron and Steel Company, SINTRAMETAL YUMBO.
3.. HUGO FERNANDO CASTILLO SANCHEZ received six 9mm calibre bullets to his body which killed him instantly. His wife, DIANA XIMENA ZUÑIGA reached hospital alive but died before it was possible to perform surgery.
4.. The couple assassinated, HUGO FERNANDO CASTILLO SANCHEZ of 26 years of age and DIANA XIMENA ZUÑIGA, of 22 years leave two children orphaned; 4 year old JUAN FERNANDO CASTILLO ZUÑIGA who witnessed his parents´murder and two and a half month old baby MELANY CASTILLO ZUÑIGA.
5.. This policy of extermination of bodyguards known and trusted by union leaders in the region occurs at the same time that high risk trade unionists have refused to accept unknown bodyguards assigned to them by the Security Administration Department (DAS). Many union leaders have preferred to go without security schemes provided by the government rather than accept bodyguards in whom they do not have total confidence. While some union leaders are currently protected by precautionary measures taken by the OEA this brutal unofficial response to the refusal to accept assigned guards leaves high risk trade unionists effectively unprotected.
1.. On the 14th of April, 2004, the attempted assassination of SINTRAMETAL leader EDGAR PEREA ZUÑIGA resulted in the death of his brother RAÚL PEREA ZÚÑIGA.
2.. On the 15th of April, 2004, SINTRAEMSIRVA leader, CARLOS ALBERTO CHICAIZA was assassinated.
3.. On the 1st of May, 2004 twenty demonstrators were injured by police on the peaceful May Day March in Cali, Colombia.
4.. On the 2nd of May, 2004 JESÚS ALEXANDER HERMANDEZ, bodyguard assigned to the special protection programme for union leaders and human rights defenders and community leader in the San Luis Neighborhood was killed in an assassination attempt against SINTRAMENTAL leader EDGAR PEREA ZUÑIGA.
We urgently Demand:
a.. A thorough and exhaustive investigation into to bring to justice the material and intellectual authors of the assassination of HUGO FERNANDO CASTILLO SANCHEZ and DIANA XIMENA ZUÑIGA.
a.. The immediate provision of the necessary and sufficient mechanisms of protection to guarantee the safety of the bodyguards of the Home office Protection Programme for Union Leaders and Human Rights Defenders.
· That the Colombian Government explains the reasons for the ongoing and systematic persecution of union leaders and their bodyguards in the Cauca Valley, Colombia.
· That the Colombian Government provide sufficient and necessary guarantees for the respect of constitutional human rights to life, security, freedom of opinion, information, assembly, protest and the right to form trade unions.
Asociación Para la Investigación y Acción Social
Sindicato de Trabajadores de Las Empresas Municipales de Cali
Sindicato De Los Trabajadores Universitarios De Colombia
La Unión Sindical Obrera
Asociación para el Desarrollo Social Integral
Central Unitaria De Los Trabajadores
CUT – VALLE DEL CAUCA
Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Minería en Colombia
Movimiento Estudiantil del Valle del Cauca y Nariño
Corporación Servicios Profesionales Comunitarios
Fundación Comité De Solidaridad Con Presos Políticos Seccional Valle del Cauca
Organizaciones Barriales Juveniles Artísticas y
Populares de Santiago de Cali