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Global outrage at assassination of Guatemalan union leader

Posted to the IUF website 29-Jan-2007

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IUF joins investigative mission

On Monday, January 17 Pedro Zamora, General Secretary of the ITF-affiliated dockers’ union, Sindicato de Trabajadores Empresa Portuaria – Quetzal (STEPQ), was shot 20 times by multiple assailants, who ambushed him while he was picking up his two sons from a hospital appointment.

Following a round of 100 bullets, he was finally shot at point blank range in the face; one of his sons, three-year-old Angel, was wounded in the attack.

The murder of Zamora is thought to be in response to his role in defending workers’ jobs at Quetzal; during the dispute, police were sent to intimidate him, reportedly at the orders of the port company. The IUF assisted the ITF in the dispute by taking up the issue with banana companies in Guatemala.

From January 28-February 3, an ITF team will be in Guatemala to investigate the murder. ITF General secretary, David Cockcroft explains;

"In the time since Pedro’s appalling murder we’ve fought to ensure that it isn’t just swept under the carpet. Guatemala’s streets buzz with accusations that it was condoned at a high level, and we aim to keep racking the pressure up on the authorities to do something about it. This delegation, assembled at virtually zero notice, is part of that effort. The calibre of those going on it shows both the outrage this vile little murder created and how seriously people around the world take this mission.

“It is also intended to help protect Pedro’s union colleagues, five of whom are victims of the same kind of death threats, shadowing and intimidation that preceded his murder.”

The IUF has agreed to be part of the delegation and members of our Guatemalan affiliate, FESTRAS, will join the team on behalf of the whole IUF.

The delegation includes:
Stuart Howard, ITF Assistant General Secretary
Antonio Fritz, ITF Latin American Regional Secretary
Frank Leys, ITF Dockers’ Section Secretary
Francisco Torrealba, Venezuelan Parliamentary Deputy and National ITF Co-ordinator
Amanda Villatoro, ITUC Secretary of Policy and Education (from El Salvador)
Manuela Chavez, ITUC (travelling from Belgium)
Rebecca Madsen, CC.OO union (arriving from Spain)
José María Fernández, ISCOD/UGT union (from Guatemala)
David Morales, UITA-FESTRAS union (from Guatemala)
Arturo Ruiz, USTAC union (from Guatemala)
Oscar Giovanni, STEPQ union (from Guatemala).
Tim Beaty, Teamsters Director of Global Strategies (flying from USA)
Representatives of the ILO and AFL-CIO are to be confirmed.

The delegation’s itinerary includes a visit to Pedro Zamora’s family and to his grave. Meetings are currently being sought with: The President of Guatemala; The General Attorney; the Auxiliary General Attorney, Escuintla District; Deputy Aristides Baldomero Crespo Villegas, head of the FRG, the largest political party in Congress; Deputy Edgar Alfredo Rodríguez, President of the Human Rights Committee of the Guatemalan Congress; Dr Sergio Morales, Human Rights General Attorney; the US Embassy Labour and Human Rights Attaché; and the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights.

Information about the campaign including details of where to send protest messages can be found on the ITF website at:
itfglobal