Colombian agricultural workers' union leader assassinated

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Alberto Román Acosta González, the president of the Guacarí branch of the National Union of Workers in Agricultural Industries (Sintrainagro), was murdered on Saturday 1 July in the Valle del Cauca’s sugar plantation zone.
 
Sintrainagro, the National Union of Workers in Agricultural Industries has issued the following statement
 
Apartadó, 1 July 2017
 
Sintrainagro, the National Union of Workers in Agricultural Industries, informs its partners and the national and international public of the murder of Alberto Román Acosta González, a union leader of the sugar cane workers in the Valle del Cauca and president of the Guacarٌí branch, on 1 July 2017.
 
Acosta was murdered at 11 o’clock on Saturday morning on the La Saga pitch in the Santa Bárbara district of El Cerrito while he watched his son play a football match for his Guacarí team. We convey our deepest sympathies to his relatives and colleagues. 
 
Sintrainagro wholeheartedly condemns the assassination of our colleague and we oppose any form of violence against union leaders in our organization and in the country. We speak out in protest of this and we oppose any method of silencing union leaders and restricting their rights to union involvement. We believe in a fair fight for workers’ rights and we will continue to fight for better working conditions for everyone, including the workers that are affiliated with our organization and their families. 
 
At the same time, we look to the competent authorities to commit to the investigation and resolution of this terrible crime against our colleague Alberto Román, so that it does not go unpunished, as so many others do in our country. 
 
To our colleagues in the Valle del Cauca and to their families and friends, we express our condolences and solidarity in this difficult time. 
 
Yours sincerely, 
The Sintrainago Executive Committee
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And reproduced below is a report from the Latin American Region of the International Union of Foodworkers: 
 
 
Violence That Kills But Does Not Die
 
Alberto Román Acosta González, the president of the Guacarí branch of the National Union of Workers in Agricultural Industries (Sintrainagro), has been murdered in the Valle del Cauca’s sugar plantation zone.
 
A few weeks ago, the president Juan Manuel Santos declared in a press conference that ‘We have been informed that Columbia remains excluded from the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s  list of countries that shamefully exploit workers’ rights.’
 
Today, less than a month after this declaration, we have learnt of the murder of Alberto Román Acosta González, the president of the Guacarí Sintrainagro in the Valle del Cauca.
 
According to a statement by the union, Acosta was murdered today, Saturday 1 July at 11 o’ clock in the morning. Two hired assassins on motorbikes shot and killed the director while he was watching his son play football. 
 
According to the Ombudsman’s Office of Columbia, 156 social leaders and defenders of human rights were murdered between the 1 January 2016 and the 1 March 2017. In Sintrainagro’s case, members of its national executive committee were shot in the Valle del Cauca on the 24 February 2015, and on the 8 March last year a grenade exploded in the branch headquarters in Ciénaga. 
 
In response, Sintrainagro categorically denounced the despicable murder and condemned any form of violence against union leaders, as well as any act that intends to silence trade unions.
 
At the same time,’ they stated, ‘we look to the competent authorities to commit to the investigation and resolution of this terrible crime against our colleague Alberto Román, so that it does not go unpunished, as so many murders of leaders have done in Columbia.’ 
 
A while ago Alberto Román had written on the Sintrainagro website: 
 
In the fields where the sugar cane is first harvested to be processed and to produce the sugar that we use to sweeten our coffee, we are concerned by the reduction in tariffs and by the fines imposed on the mills by the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce. 
 
For that reason, after speaking with our partners in the countryside we are worried that these mills will be closed and we will be left without work. Our branch is ready to do whatever necessary to defend our jobs and our families. We ask our colleagues from other unions to join the Sintrainagro family in the fight for our work and our rights.
 
Continuing the fight to defend the sugar sector and national sugar production against FTA taxes and the United States’ intention to fill Columbia with a genetically modified product will be the best way to honour the life and fight of a beloved colleague and friend, and so we will. 
 
Farewell Alberto.