The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), which represents 656 unions worldwide with 4.5 million members, issued a call on July 17 for its members to carry out protests against Honduran shipping. The federation said it was expressing opposion to a June 28 military coup which replaced Honduran president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales with a de facto government. “We have to put real pressure on the Honduran military to allow the country to revert to democracy,” ITF general secretary David Cockroft said.
The federation said the call to action was likely to affect the loading and unloading of the 650 ships that fly the Honduran flag. This is a “flag of convenience,” according to the ITF—”a low-cost cosmetic ship registration by companies with no link to the country and no intention of employing its citizens onboard.”
On July 3 ITF-affiliated unions in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua protested the coup with demonstrations at the borders with Honduras—in El Amatillo, El Salavdor; Izabal, Guatemala; and Los Tres Pasos de Frontera, Nicaragua. Transport workers from Venezuela and Mexico also participated. (ITF press releases, July 10, 17; Prensa
Latina, July 17; TeleSUR, July 17)
In other news, Father José Andrés Tamayo, an activist Honduran priest and 2005 Goldman Environmental Prize recipient, was in Tegucigalpa on July 16 to participate in protests blocking the highway to the north of the capital. Tamayo, a leader of the environmental movement in Olancho department whose life has been threatened repeatedly, went into hiding briefly on July 1 after escaping a military attack on a roadblock in the countryside. At the Tegucigalpa protest he noted “the large number of women and men of advanced age. This means that they have a spirit of courage and have lost their fear. We’re coming to a stage where people are taking on the struggle personally as a people. This generates much more force and resistance, because the people are no longer trusting the media, the police, the business owners and the traditional politicians…. [O]nly the people defend the people.” (Minga Informativa de Movimientos Sociales, July 16 from Comunicaciones Vía Campesina)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 19
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