Edwin Alexis Vergara, 32, was a member of the Asamblea Sindical de Ingenios La Cabaña -SINTRAINCABAÑA.
He was a son of Raúl Vergara, also a union leader, a former council member and current president of the same union, who has been threatened on many occasions because of his union work.
Edwin worked as a cane burner on the sugar plantations in vereda Llano de Tabla, in the municipality of Guachené, North Cauca.
At 9PM on the evening of 8 March 2020, he had finished his day’s work and was having dinner with friends when gunmen drove up on a motorcycle and shot him dead.
The Confederación General de Trabajo –CGT, confirmed that other union members have received threats and expressed concern that these threats were now being carried out.
The union has been working to improve working conditions and in particular has been focused on getting the different unions to work more closely together to give them more leverage with employers. This had not gone down well with the plantation owners.
While 95% of sugar cane workers are unionised in the Cauca, being a union leader is increasingly dangerous given the absence of a strong state presence.