WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
16 Mar 2023 | Joint Statement

Condemning the Murder of Two Female Union Members in Cali

February 22nd 2023,

We condemn the murder of two female union members of Sintraunicol in Cali and demand justice.

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and Colombia Acuerdo de Paz NGO condemn the vile murder of two Universidad del Valle employees. The incident occurred this morning at the entrance to the Universidad del Valle’s Melendez campus located in the city of Cali. The victims, Gloria Mendoza and Maria Elena Mendiga, belonged to Sintraunicol, a trade union of public universities’ workers and employees. Both women were linked to the University for over 20 years. According to the union, in July 2022, one of the victims filed a criminal complaint after an unknown person went to her home in Siloé neighborhood and tried to kill her,” said Colonel William Quintero. On May 3, 2022, the Afro-Colombian Mauricio Fory Balanta, Universidad del Valle trade unionist affiliated with the Union of Mixed Public Workers and Public Employees (Sindicato Mixto de Trabajadores y Empleados Públicos de la Universidad del ValleSintraempuvalle), was murdered.

We demand that Colombia authorities take action to guarantee the safety of the remaining trade unionists from Sintraunicol and Universidad del Valle, that this crime is investigated and that the intellectual and material authors are brought to justice. One of the conditions for moving forward with the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement was the commitment to advance the U.S.-Colombia Labor Action Plan that seeks to prevent assassinations of trade unionists and justice in cases of assassinations of trade unionists. The U.S. Embassy in Bogota and the U.S. Department of Labor must take steps to ensure justice in these cases, protection for threatened trade unionists, and work with the Colombian government to ensure that there is a safe and non-retaliatory civic space for trade unionism in Cali. Actions on this issue should be differentiated taking into account the specificities associated with gender and Afrodescendant persons.

Download the letter here.