On the afternoon of December 11, 2012, a hired assassin killed union leader MILTON ENRIQUE RIVAS PARRA. The event took place in the municipality of Puerto Gaitan (Meta department, Colombia), near the offices of TERMOTECNICA, where he worked as an operator and electrician. Rivas Parra had received a death threat earlier in the day from someone who told him that he would be killed for being a member of the USO workers union of Colombia and a leader of the Permanent Assembly of workers fighting for their rights.
Rivas Parra was part of the USO union and was known for his leadership and his support for workers struggles in the department of Meta in Southern Colombia. He worked for Montajes JM, a partner of Pacific Rubiales, a Canadian oil company. This terrible event occurs in the context of the harsh reality that faces workers in Puerto Gaitan. Since the Santos government implemented the poorly named “Energy-mining locomotive” oil exploration project led by Pacific Rubiales, Puerto Gaitan has been the site of serious violations to union rights, workers rights, and to the systematic violation of human rights, integrity, and freedom. These violations have been denounced by the USO as well as by national and international organizations.
We hold the national government and the oil companies in the area responsible for the killing of Rivas Parra. We also demand clarification on the details of his brutal assassination.
We call upon the national government to guarantee the safety of all USO leaders and workers so that they may continue to fight for the rights of workers in the Meta department.
We call upon the national and international communities to condemn the assassination of this USO-affiliated worker and demand justice from the national government.
We invite people from all over Colombia to launch a campaign so that the oil fields of Puerto Gaitan be returned to the people of Colombia and so that the multinational Pacific Rubiales be expelled from the country for its grave human rights violations.
Written by: National Board of Directors and the National Human Rights and Peace Commission, USO. Bogota, December 11, 2012
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