Honduras and CAFTA Show Why TPP Must be Opposed

Map of all countries which have ratified the D...

Map of all countries which have ratified the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

12/10/2015Brian Finnegan
This week, the governments of Honduras and the United States signed an action plan to begin addressing the widespread failure to enforce labor laws in Honduras. While this is a small step in the right direction, the Honduran government has not fully considered or included workers’ recommendations regarding this Monitoring and Action Plan. The Honduran government, employers and unions have reached consensus on some points, but major issues remain unresolved. The action plan should not have been signed until the parties reached agreement on the draft inspection law that is central to the viability of the action plan.

The plan also stops short of calling for stronger enforcement action should Honduras continue to fail. It is far too early for congratulations. Through such delayed and partial actions, the U.S. government has not acted effectively to defend workers’ rights in Honduras and with other trading partners. Continue reading

Tackling the Root Causes of the Refugee Crisis at the U.S. Border

by Charlie Fanning

Tackling the Root Causes of the Refugee Crisis at the U.S. Border
For months, thousands of children and families from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have been turning themselves in at the southern U.S. border, fleeing widespread violence, poverty and corruption in their communities. This influx of refugees has strained the resources of front-line responders and evoked both humanitarian responses from community groups and local unions and xenophobic backlash from right-wing politicians and activists.

As lawmakers play political football with the lives of these families, the labor movement, faith groups and community and migrant rights organizations have sought to shift the focus of the debate by urging the U.S. government to craft a humanitarian response to the current crisis while taking action to address its root causes.

On Thursday, the AFL-CIO Executive Council passed a historic resolution standing up for this country’s proud tradition of welcoming those fleeing repression and violence. It urged the Obama administration to ensure all children who have survived trauma or persecution are afforded refugee status. In response to proposals from both Democrats and Republicans to roll back protections for victims of trafficking and expedite deportation proceedings, the council rejected changes to current law that would limit due process or run counter to established U.S. and international norms regarding the detainment of children and refugees.

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Guatemala’s Killing Fields

Another Banana Union Leader Assassinated in Guatemala

by Paul Garver

This year Guatemala is overtaking Colombia in the contest for killing the most advocates of rights for workers and peasants.

On May 26, Joel Hernandez Godoy, finance secretary of the banana workers union SITRABI, was shot dead by a gunman on motorcycle while driving to the union headquarters in the town of Morales.

This brutal assassination follows the April 10 murder of SITRABI officer Oscar  Humberto Vasquez, killed by two men on a motorcycle in Nueva Chiriqui, Morales.

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USLEAP Releases Report on Worker Rights Under New Guatemalan Government

USLEAP released a full report on its conclusions from a fact-finding mission to Guatemala in July. The report details the status of worker rights under the new government of Alvaro Colom. Initial expectations that the change of government would open a new era for the ability of workers to exercise their basic rights are fading fast, seven months after the new administration took office in January 2008, according to Guatemalan labor union leaders.   A notable rise in violence against trade unionists has been accompanied by near total impunity as well as the government’s failure to address wide-spread worker rights violations.   Most concerning for U.S. policy makers and worker rights supporters, according to the report, the mission found strong evidence that U.S. policy and leverage for supporting worker rights in Guatemala has weakened significantly with the passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

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