WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
8 Dec 2008 |

WOLA Urges Action on Attempted Kidnapping of Colombian Union Leader

According to reports WOLA received on, December 2, 2008, the day of the incident, at 9:30 in the morning two unknown men, believed to be from the Black Eagles (Aguilas Negras), approached Martha Diaz, president of the Santander Union of Public Employees (ASDEMPT), as she was walking.  One of the men bearing a revolver ordered her into a nearby taxi, where the other man stood holding the door open.  Fortunately, Ms. Diaz was able to escape and ran until she found a police officer to help her.  At the very same hour, ASDEMPT Secretary Guillermo Prieto Casas received a threatening phone call at the office.  An unknown voice told him that the “Black Eagles had accomplished” their mission and that Ms. Diaz was already dead.

A climate of fear and insecurity is not new to Ms. Diaz, who has already suffered attacks and death threats against her and her family. In August 2006, she was kidnapped, beaten, tortured and shot by men who claimed to be sent by the former mayor of Los Santos. This case was selected by the International Labor Organization as one of 100 incidents of labor rights violations the ILO called on the Colombian government to investigate.  The Attorney General’s office in Santander carried out an investigation and found that a Colombian army sergeant was involved in this attempt on her life.

This most recent threat against Martha Diaz and ASDEMPT is the continuation of an ongoing campaign of violence and intimidation against union leaders and human rights defenders throughout Colombia.  Urgent action is needed to protect leaders such as Ms. Diaz and to assure that crimes against her and others are investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted.

It is due to ongoing human rights abuses, impunity and violence, exemplified by this case, that WOLA continue to oppose US-Colombia FTA.


WOLA wrote the following letter to Members of Congress who met with Ms. Diaz in July of 2007, as part of a Colombian women’s delegation who came to speak with them about the implications that the passage of the US-Colombia FTA would have for Colombian women .

WOLA also wrote the following letter to President Uribe (in Spanish) regarding the attempted kidnapping.