Colombia - Violent repression and arrests at USO demonstrations

On 28 February 2017, the Unión Sindical Obrero (USO) staged a stoppage in the municipalities of Barrancabermeja, Bucaramanga, Cartagena, Casabe, Canta Gallo, Putumayo, Meta and Sabana de Torres. Around 1,500 workers took part in the demonstrations held in protest at Ecopetrol S.A.’s labour outsourcing policy. According to USO leaders, the military was deployed at a number of the protests.

In Cartagena, the anti-riot squad (ESMAD) and the Marine Infantry were deployed to repress the demonstration; three workers were left injured and four were arrested. USO leader Wilmer Hernández was hit with the butt of a rifle. Demonstrators protesting at the offices of the Colombian Petroleum Institute in Bucaramanga were attacked by riot police.

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