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Advocacy group misrepresented

RE "THE promise of a Colombia trade pact" (Op-ed, April 11): Edward Schumacher-Matos misrepresents the work of Human Rights Watch on killings of trade unionists in Colombia when he says we "imply" that all such murders are because of labor organizing.

There is no question – and Human Rights Watch has said so often – that some of the thousands of unsolved trade unionist killings in Colombia are attributable to common crime or to left-wing guerrillas.

However, in a majority of cases in which the killers have been identified, they are members of right-wing paramilitary death squads. And the paramilitaries openly admit to targeting unionists, because they stigmatize unions as guerrilla-related.

Even if only half the killings are due to union activity, that would mean that 200 of the more than 400 trade unionists murdered during the administration of President Alvaro Uribe were killed for exercising workers' rights.

The US Congress is right to insist that the Colombian government show concrete results in holding the killers accountable before considering a trade deal with Colombia.

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