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Exploited Labor: News & Updates
January 21, 2020
Please see the attached letter (January 21, 2020) we sent to the President Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Honduras, urging his government to drop the four bogus criminal charges that are pending against labor leader Moises Sánchez. Tomorrow in court, Moises faces the possibility of 30 years in prison on charges related to the usurpation of private land to build a community access road.
January 21, 2020
A union leader in Honduras could be imprisoned for 30 years on bogus charges, pending a decision at a trial on Jan 22. Moises Sanchez is the Secretary General of the STAS union on Fyffes' melon farms in Honduras, where he worked from 1993 until 2016, when he was blacklisted for his union activity. In 2017, Moises was kidnapped, viciously attacked and threatened with death if he did not abandon the union fight. Moises is a resident of La Permuta, a small community that had no road access and people had to cross rivers to get to the closest city, Choluteca. In 2018, La Permuta’s village assembly voted to build a road. The mayor of the municipality, Santa Ana de Yusguare, agreed with the effort and told them the land was public land. Nearly two years later, a private landowner has come forward saying the land was hers and pressed charges for ‘criminal usurpation.’ Over a number of years, this landowner has leased other properties she owns to the Fyffes company.
NO RELIEF IN SIGHT: PRESIDENT ALEJANDRO GIAMATTEI APPEARS TO BE A NEW FACE BACKED BY THE SAME OLD CRIMINAL NETWORKS
January 15, 2020
President-elect Alejandro Giammattei took office yesterday in Guatemala City. Giammattei comes to the presidency backed by a group of hard-line former military officers reportedly associated with the sector that opposed the peace process that ended Guatemala’s 36-year civil war. Many are also associated with industries that extract resources from rural communities – often with US, Canadian and European investment – a sector Giammattei has pledged to promote. In one of CICIG’s first prosecutions, on August 9, 2010 an arrest warrant was issued against Giammattei on charges of extrajudicial execution related to violent deaths in the Pavon prison on September 25, 2006 while he was the National Director of the Penitentiary System. His then assistant and three police officers were arrested that day, but Giammattei, apparently alerted, had requested political asylum days before in Honduras’ embassy in Guatemala. His request was denied, so on August 13, 2010 he was taken into detention on the Mariscal Zavala military base.
January 8, 2020
Alternative Trade Organizations (such as Equal Exchange) have foundational influence in the broader fair trade movement but have become isolated from even their most natural allies including coops, citizen movements, community economic organizations, unions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The monthly Food Action Forum meetings allow all of us to connect, build community, and have space to push our campaigns forward and engage in actions out in our local communities. In today’s overwhelmingly digital world we want to find ways to create meaningful and deep connections with this community, connections that are two-way, connections that are active, not passive. Join us as we work together to build a democratic brand that connects small farmers in the Global South to consumers in the Global North.
January 5, 2020
The spaghetti dinner is an IRTF staple and, this year, Quin and Paul are looking to add a bit of intrigue by expanding the evening to include TRIVIA—every brainiac's favorite time to show off how very much stuff they have crammed into their noggins!
December 7, 2019
With inequality skyrocketing, health care and student debt mounting, climate change roiling the planet, civil and human rights under assault, and wages and benefits evaporating, a majority in the U.S. are now calling for a major new independent political party. Other topics for deliberation: (1) Medicare for All; (2) endless regime change wars and decimating sanctions vs. international working class solidarity; and (3) forced migration and deportation. Event is free. Donations accepted. See https://www.facebook.com/events/486321765290865/
November 24, 2019 to December 4, 2019
Please support IRTF's full-time volunteer Paul Schmitt, who will be taking part in this important labor rights delegation. The Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) and United States Labor Against the War (USLAW) are leading a joint delegation to Colombia from November 24 – December 4, 2019, timed to coincide with the third anniversary of Colombia’s peace accord that ended more than five decades of war between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP). To contribute toward Paul Schmitt's delegation costs, please click on the DONATE button at the top of the IRTF website. Thank you.
RRN Case Update
August 22, 2019
RRN case summaries at a glance
On behalf of our 190 Rapid Response Network members, IRTF volunteers write and send six letters each month to government officials in southern Mexico, Colombia, and Central America (with copies to officials in the US). Who is being targeted? indigenous and Afro-descendant leaders, labor organizers, LGBTI rights defenders, women’s rights defenders, journalists, environmental defenders, and others. By signing our names to these crucial letters, human rights crimes are brought to light, perpetrators are brought to justice and lives are spared. Our solidarity is more important than ever. Together, our voices do make a difference.
“Deeply inspiring and profoundly important”: Sweeping new history of US labor debuts to stellar reviews…
August 12, 2019
In Beaten Down, Worked Up, former New York Times labor correspondent Steven Greenhouse devotes an entire chapter to the history of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), from the early strikes in the 1990s to the Campaign for Fair Food today, including a detailed look at the ground-breaking success of the Fair Food Program!
August 12, 2019
Shopping to meet the locavore ethos ("eat local") is never simple, but taking a follow-the-money approach enables shoppers to support products that share their values. And this is where bananas come in. Buying Equal Exchange bananas from a local food co-op not only keeps money cycling through your community, but also ensures that communities of farmers in Ecuador and Peru are receiving a fair price for their products, which then keeps money flowing through their communities, as well. In a way, eating fair trade bananas gives you a local eater two-for-one, and you support both your community and the cooperative community of farmers that grew the fruit. It may not have been grown physically close to your co-op, but it creates an interconnected network of solidarity between communities.