As part of CNV Internationaal; senior EU program officer, the final report of our EU funded three year project with CGT Colombia (an independent Union based in Colombia) to the EU delegates in Bogota has been finalized. All in Spanish language, so a good opportunity for me to get my Spanish up to date and meet the Colombian partners in Bogota. What a beautiful city and culture, even now with the uncertainty of the peace process progessing.
For me the first thought of Colombia was the fear of the kidnapping, even if this is ages ago, this was my feeling with the word Colombia. But I have not felt afraid for one moment, also because we were in the city of Bogota.
For the Union leaders and members it is quite different, that is why the project started in the first place. Colombia was faced with violence targeted at trade unionists of a grave and persistent nature. This violence is widespread, occurs on a regular basis and Colombia has the highest incidence rate in the world for trade union related murders. Furthermore, there is a strong lack of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. In order to be able to improve the situation in Colombia relating to the right of freedom of assembly and association, including the right to form and join a trade union, CGT wanted to build its capacities, to raise awareness about the violations and to take increased protective measures for its staff and members.
The aim was to integrate human rights into the Colombian legal framework, by making violators accountable for their actions, and by raising awareness on the violations, the trade unions in Colombia will be able to execute their activities in a context without violations and Colombian workers will be able to join a trade union without having to fear for their lives.
After three years we can conclude that the knowledge is there, the self- empowerment of unionists is increased enourmous. There has been a decrease in incidents and murders, the offices have be equipped with safety measures, and the social dialogue between the government and the unions is increasing. Also the public awareness has been raised, through the website and also through the promotion by CGT for more awareness.
The EU guidelines are always very strict, and need specific actions to be taken. After finalizing this project and finishing up with the EU project in Cambodia, I can call myself an EU monitoring expert. I have enjoyed working with the EU Delegates in Colombia and the CGT and I welcome you to visit our website (all Spanish) and see what actions have been accomplished!
Muchas gracias, hasta luego mis amigo’s!