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CAUT Bulletin Archives

June 2000

CAUT Aids Fleeing Colombian Refugees

CAUT has donated $1,000 to assist two Colombians seeking political asylum in Canada. The request for assistance came from Education International, the world-wide body of teachers unions from more than 100 countries.

"CAUT is pleased to assist in this effort," CAUT president Tom Booth wrote in reply. "It is the responsibility of all of us to aid our colleagues who are endangered because of repressive regimes."

In March, with the help of the regional office of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Benjamin Rincon and his wife, both Colombian teachers, fled to Costa Rica. The Rincons have a six-year-old child who remains in Bogota.

Mr. and Mrs. Rincon are both members of the Colombian teachers' federation FECODE. Mr. Rincon was in prison for 15 months and survived a murder attempt. The ICFTU is deeply concerned at the alarming workers' and human rights situation in Colombia.

"FECODE has confirmed that these two Colombian citizens' lives are in danger, even in Costa Rica," said EI general secretary Fred van Leeuwen. EI will provide assistance to the family until they leave Costa Rica and will also help them reach Canada.

Colombia is the scene of assassinations, kidnaps, torture, persecution, and displacement. Since 1987, more than 2,500 trade union activists and leaders have been murdered, and thousands have been forced to flee their country, according to reports published by the ICFTU.

A summary of the report Unionists in Colombia: A High Risk Occupation, prepared by the Colombian Commission of Jurists for the Workers' Confederation of Colombia (CTC), the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the Inter-American Regional Workers' Organisation (ICFTU-ORIT) can be viewed at