Violence and intimidation continue in the Aguán Valley in Honduras this summer as police, private security forces and military officials evict peasants and threaten and kill members of campesino organizations and the Honduran National Resistance Front (FNRP). On June 24, assailants raided the houses, churches, schools, and agricultural facilities of more than 120 families, causing nearly one million dollars worth in damage.
Four more Colombian unionists have been killed as the U.S. Congress moves towards passing a U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. On July 26, Rafael Tobón Zea, a founding member of a mine and fuel workers union based in the El Campo district, was killed by unidentified assassins. Before his death Tobón Zea worked at a small mine, supported workers at the nearby Frontino mine, and advocated for smaller and medium-sized mining operations to maintain independence from transnational companies, backed by the support of the SINTRAMIENERGÉTICA union.
On August 9, the United States Trade Representative announced that it was requesting the establishment of an arbitral panel under the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) in order to discuss the Guatemalan government’s failure to enforce its labor laws, including the right to association and collective bargaining.
In a significant breakthrough, Dole has signed a collective bargaining agreement with a banana workers' union in Ecuador. Ecuador is the largest banana exporter in the world and has been virtually non-union for the past two decades, despite numerous attempts by workers to organize unions in an effort to improve wages and working conditions.
The Coordination of Latin American Banana Unions (COLSIBA) and the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) have reached an agreement with Chiquita to negotiate a new gender discrimination and sexual harassment policy. A working group has been established with the goal of finalizing the amendment by the end of 2011, to be incorporated into a regional framework agreement signed by the three parties in 2001.
In the same week that former President Manuel Zelaya returned to Honduras, nearly 90 members of the U.S. Congress broke with the Obama Administration’s policy on Honduras, calling for a suspension of military aid until extensive human rights violations are addressed and impunity ends. A similar letter in September 2010 drew 30 congressional signers.
On May 26, Guatemalan banana union leader Joel Hernandez Godoy, Finance Secretary of the SITRABI union, was shot dead, reportedly by two gunmen on a motorcycle. According to BananaLink, Godoy “was killed by unidentified gunmen as he left the Nuevo Campo plantation in the community of Los Amates..... Eyewitnesses waiting for a b
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has declared that Colombia is in compliance with the first set of benchmarks established by the Labor Action Plan signed last month, despite clear evidence that the Colombian government failed to do so.