Honduras: AFL-CIO protests labor rights violations

On March 29 the AFL-CIO, the main US labor federation, joined with two Honduran union federations to file a petition with the US Department of Labor’s Public Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA) asking the US to push the Honduran government to address labor violations. Evangelina Argueta Chinchilla, representing Honduras’ General Workers Central (CGT), and Francisco Joel López Mejía, deputy general secretary of the smaller Independent Federation of Workers of Honduras (FITH), traveled to Washington to file the petition.

The federations’ complaint is based on provisions for labor rights in the US-sponsored Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). Unions and grassroots movements in the affected countries strongly opposed the agreement when it was proposed and had little confidence in the labor right provisions. Six years after the agreement went into effect, the labor provisions have not in fact been meaningfully enforced in Honduras, according to the union representatives.

“For many years our government has neglected workers and even has violated their own promises,” Argueta said. “They have ignored Honduras’ unions, while dealing openly with corporations. They have passed laws that undermine unions and reduce standards of living.” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stressed “the long-term cooperation and commitment of the AFL-CIO and the Honduran labor movement to promote and protect worker rights.” (Honduras Weekly, March 30/12; People’s World, April 9)

In other news, on April 13 the military detained two campesinos, Juan Galindo López and Oveniel (or Obeniel) Cáceres in the Marañones settlement in the Lower Aguán Valley, the site of a long-running conflict between campesinos and large landowners over land rights. On April 14 the Canadian-based organization Rights Action reported that Galindo had been released but Cáceres was apparently still in detention. (Adital, Brazil, April 13, from Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras, COFADEH; Rights Action posting, April 13; Rights Action email, April 14)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 15.

See our last post on Honduras.