Labor Rights in Colombia: Ongoing Violence and Unfulfilled Promises

Labor Rights in Colombia: Ongoing Violence and Unfulfilled Promises

WOLA and the United Steelworkers invite you to an event featuring:

Sen. Alexander López Maya, Senator, Republic of Colombia

Rodolfo Vecino Acevedo, President, Workers Union of the Oil Industry (USO)

Félix Arturo Herrera Riaño, President, Sintraime Mining Union

Alexander Carrillo Castaño and Daniel Borja Oyola, Co-Presidents, Collective of Fired Workers – Sugar Factory San Carlos SA

Jorge Iván Vélez, President, SINTRAEMCALI Union

Tuesday, February 12
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Washington Office on Latin America
1666 Connecticut Ave NW
4th Floor Conference Room


To RSVP, please click here.

For more information or for press inquiries, please contact Adam Schaffer at or (202) 797-2171.

To view the live stream of the event, please click here.

Simultaneous translation from Spanish to English will be provided.

As implementation of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement nears its first anniversary, progress initially made in addressing Colombia’s dire labor rights situation has begun to erode. Political will in both countries to enforce labor laws is waning, and implementation of the Labor Action Plan (LAP)—the bilateral agreement that outlined concrete steps for Colombia to curb its labor rights violations—has stagnated. What are the implications of this backsliding, and what does it mean for Colombia’s workers?

Senator Alexander López Maya, the leading advocate in the Colombian Senate on labor issues, will be joined by the leadership of Colombia’s oil sector union, the USO—one of the largest in the country and a priority sector of the LAP—on this panel to discuss the continued challenges facing Colombian labor from both legislative and on-the-ground perspectives. From third-party subcontracting to anti-union violence, the event will explore continued obstacles facing Colombia’s workers and recommendations for progress.

Alexander López Maya has served as senator since 2006. He is the Second Vice President of the Senate and Vice President of the Congressional Commission on Human Rights. Senator López is the leading voice in the Colombian Senate on labor issues, having organized numerous hearings on labor rights in the key sectors of the U.S.-Colombia Labor Action Plan, including the sugar, port, and mining sectors, as well as the effects of mining and large scale economic development projects such as monoculture sugar crops on the environment and peoples. Previously, Senator López Maya was a member and then president of the Public Works Union of Cali (SINTRAEMCALI). Senator López Maya holds a law degree from San Buenaventura University of Cali. 

Rodolfo Vecino is National President of the USO, Colombia’s oil workers’ union and one of the largest unions in Colombia. He directs the union’s activities in this key sector of the Labor Action Plan. A refinery operator by trade, Mr. Vecino has spent the last 18 years as an activist, negotiator, and organizer in regional and national offices of the union in its actions before ECOPETROL, Colombia’s oil company.

Felix Herrera guides the union’s international activities representing 3,000 workers from the metals and mining sectors. In his capacity as president, he has closely followed the implementation of the FTA and LAP. Herrera has worked for the union for the past 25 years, and been affiliated with GM Colmotores for over 30.

Alexander Carrillo Castaño and Daniel Borja Oyola are the co-Representatives of a collective of 315 fired workers from the Valle del Cauca, Colombia, sugar factory San Carlos S.A. Carrillo and Borja have led the workers—some with over three decades time at San Carlos—for the past three years in their fight to regain their jobs and dignity in this key sector of the Labor Action Plan.

Jorge Iván Vélez Calvo has formed part of the Assembly of Delegates of the Sindicatos de Trabajadores de las Empresas Municipales de Cali (SINTRAEMCALI) labor union for the past 17 years. For the past six years, Mr. Vélez has served as SINTRAEMCALI’s President. In this capacity, Mr. Vélez has led SINTRAEMCALI’s efforts to defend labor rights and to prevent privatization of EMCALI EICE ESP company.