"Bullets and Bananas: The Violence of Free Trade in Guatemala," by Cyril Mychalejko. UpsideDownWorld.org. May 1, 2008.
Less than 24 hours after President Bush met with Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom at the White House on Monday, a worker from a union that filed a trade complaint with Washington against the Guatemalan government was murdered.
Carlos Enrique Cruz HernÃ¡ndez, a banana worker, was assassinated while working at a farm owned by a subsidiary of Del Monte. Cruz HernÃ¡ndez's Union of Izabal Banana Workers (SITRABI), was one of six Guatemalan unions who, along with the AFL-CIO, filed a complaint allowed through labor provisions of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) on April 23, charging that the Guatemalan government was not upholding its labor laws and was failing to investigate and prosecute crimes against union members–which include rape and murder. The complaint states that violence against trade unionists has increased over the past two years (since CAFTA was ratified) and that the Guatemalan government may be responsible for some of the violence. The violence from this year alone includes 8 murders, 1 attempted murder, 2 drive-by shootings, and the kidnapping and gang rape of a top union official's daughter who was targeted because of her father's union work.
"There is a climate of terror for trade unionists," said Thea Lee, the chief international economist at the AFL-CIO, in an interview with Bloomberg News. "But so far the Bush administration hasn't lifted a finger to enforce any of the labor chapters.
The ongoing violence against workers in Guatemala makes it clear that talk of free trade improving human rights in developing countries is lost in translation. Free trade has done nothing but exacerbate poverty and inequality, while rewarding governments for sustaining repressive conditions that allow corporations to exploit vulnerable, and often powerless workers. No country in the world exemplifies this hostility towards workers' rights more than Colombia, a country that the Bush Administration is currently trying to reward by pressuring congress to pass a free trade agreement.
According to the U.S. Labor Education on the Americas Project, Colombia accounts for more than 60 percent of trade unionists killed worldwide. There have also been at least 17 murders of trade unionists just this year, which according to a report released last month accounts for an 89 percent increase of murders during the same time period from 2007.
Why isn't the U.S. position as follows:
- No Labor and Union Rights
- No Occupational Safety and Health
- No Environmental Protection
- No Fair Trade
- No Human Rights
No trade agreements?
The answer is because fascist, capitalist imperialists have been running the U.S.
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