Toggle high contrast

Death threats against Hector Sanchez, community and union leader in Colombia

Issue date

H.E. Mauricio Rodriguez Munera
Embassy of Colombia
3 Hans Crescent

Dear Ambassador

Threats received by Héctor Sánchez - community leader and member of the USO in Puerto Gaitán, Meta.

On behalf of the Trades Union Congress, the 6 million members of our affiliated unions and British workers I am writing to request that you convey our serious concerns to your government and in particular the agencies responsible for protection regarding the recent threats made to Mr. Héctor Sánchez a community leader and Unión Sindical Obrera de la Industria del Petróleo activist.

At 7pm on the 16 July 2013, Mr Sánchez, his wife and 3-year old son, Juan David, received a death threat in the form of a note left in the dining room of their home. It was made from letters cut from a newspaper and read as follows:

'RIP Juan David and Mrs. Sánchez. We know you and your family's every move. You can ask for help but it will serve no purpose. We also know when you go to work. Do not look for a needless death for your wife and son. We offer our condolences on the loss of your wife and son. Do not leave your son without a father and your wife a widow or find yourself a widower'.

Mr Sánchez is a community leader and member of the Unión Sindical Obrera in the small community of Porvenir in Puerto Gaitán (Meta), where the multinational Pacific Rubiales Energy operates oilfields.

Mr Sánchez helped to organise meetings with community members on the 21-22 June 2013 during which the USO and other organisations issued an invitation to participate in 'Ethical and Political Justice Against Plundering' an event organised by various social, student, peasant workers, trade union, indigenous, environmental and women's organisations that highlight the consequences of 'megaprojects' and extractive development proposals for local residents.

On the 24 July 2013 at approximately 6:40 am in the El Porvenir area, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Puerto Gaitán municipality, Mr Sánchez's wife discovered a manila envelope on her doorstep. On it was a cross made out of shiny silver paper stuck on with black tape and at the top of the envelope the words 'DEATH TO USO TOADS'.

'Ethical and Political Justice Against Plundering' took place on the 13 - 14 July 2013. Prior notification of this event was given to the authorities including the Ministry for the Interior, the Ombudsman and the Vice-President of the Republic. During this event Mr Sánchez played the role of a witness in the central discussion on criminalisation. The subsequent death threat appears to be as a direct consequence of his participation in this event.

Consequently and taking into account the imminent threat to the life and integrity of the people in receipt of these threats, including a child, we call on you to convey our request that the Colombian authorities urgently launch a serious, exhaustive and impartial investigation to identify and punish those responsible for the crimes listed above and that effective and adequate protective measures be put in place to protect the life and integrity of the people directly affected by the threats made on the 16 of July 2013.

Thank you for your attention, I look forward to your prompt reply.

Yours sincerely

Frances O'Grady

General Secretary

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

To access the admin area, you will need to setup two-factor authentication (TFA).

Setup now