Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Labor repression in Guatemala

Brussels, 17 January 2007 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC has condemned the
brutal killing on 15 January of Dockworkers' Union leader Pedro Zamora
in an attack by a number of armed assassins. Zamora, General Secretary
of the STPEQ Union, had been leading efforts to stop the privatization
of the country's major port of Quetzal and he and fellow unionists had
been subjected to a campaign of harassment and intimidation. The union
is proposing a programme of upgrading and modernisation as an
alternative to placing the port facilities in private hands.

After picking up his children from a hospital appointment, Zamora's car
was followed and then rammed by a white pick-up truck, and then sprayed
by gunfire from both sides of the vehicle. Of the more than 100 bullets
which hit the car, around 20 hit Zamora. One of the killers then walked
up to his vehicle and shot him in the face, a method reminiscent of that
used by paramilitary forces during the country's civil war. Despite
Zamora's efforts to protect his children during the attack, his
3-year-old son was injured but his condition is believed to be stable.

The ITUC and the International Transport Workers Federation are taking
this latest case of anti-union repression in Guatemala to the
International Labour Organisation, and calling on the Guatemalan
government to ensure that a full investigation take place, to identify
the culprits and bring them to justice. Suspicions that the management
of the Port was involved should constitute one focus of the

"This gruesome killing recalls the darkest days of Guatemala's decades
of civil conflict, and the country's reputation will continue to suffer
unless action is taken to root out and punish those who commission and
perpetrate intimidation and murder", said ITUC General Secretary Guy
Ryder, adding "this murder was planned and premeditated, and appears
designed to send a message to those who dare to stand up for fundamental

The ITUC and ITF will be coordinating worldwide action to put pressure
on the Guatemalan authorities to guarantee full respect for the rule of
law and fundamental workers' rights, to ensure that all those involved
in the killing are punished and that the continuing culture of impunity
is brought to an end.

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