WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
25 Jan 2012 | News

WOLA Applauds Exoneration of Labor Rights Defenders in Colombia

WOLA applauds the exoneration of Omar Enrique Cedano, Oscar de Jesús Bedoya, Raúl Antonio Chacón, José Oney Valencia, Juan Pablo Ochoa, and Alberto Bejarano. For more than three years, these individuals have battled baseless accusations that intended to silence their work in defense of labor rights in Colombia.

On January 23, 2012, Judge María Eugenia Correa finally recognized their innocence. The false accusations against them were directly linked to their involvement in the 2008 sugarcane cutters’ strike in Valle del Cauca. The strike intended to establish direct contracts between sugarcane cutters and the companies that benefitted from their services. Their struggle for direct employment continues today in several sectors of the Colombian economy, including the sugar, ports, oil palm, and mining industries.

“This is a victory for the working class, but the sugar industry continues to violate the rights of the sugarcane cutters,” according to Juan Pablo Ochoa. WOLA is committed to protecting the rights of Colombian workers that are jeopardized by the implementation of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

Other Resources:

Workers without Rights:” This policy brief provides background information on the abusive sub-contracting model in Colombia and a case study of the sugarcane cutters in Valle del Cauca.

Impunity Reigns in Cases of Labor Rights Violations in Colombia:” WOLA hosted a delegation with Senator Alexander Lopez Maya and Mr. Jorge Ivan Velez, President of SINTRAEMCALI, to the U.S. in January 2012. During the delegation they educated policymakers on the labor rights situation in Colombia. This letter signed by Senator Lopez Maya, Mr. Jorge Ivan Velez, Mr. Tarsicio Mora Godoy, and WOLA provides an analysis the labor rights situation in Colombia.