Colombia: Trade unionists in Colombia: a tenuous grip on life
Trade unionists in Colombia are frequently the target of human rights violations because their trade union activities are perceived as "subversive". According to the Colombian Trade Union Confederation, 1,500 union members have been killed since 1986. A total of 170 trade unionists were killed in 1993 and in the first nine months of 1994, 27 trade unionists were shot dead in Antioquia department alone, although not all of these were killed solely because of their union activities. These killings occur against a backdrop of long-running civil conflict between the security forces and several guerrilla groups (who have also committed human rights abuses). Paramilitary forces, who appear to be responsible for the greatest number of political killings, form an integral part of the army's counter insurgency strategy and have become powerful military structures in their own right.
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