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New Banana Union Murder in Guatemala

Posted to the IUF website 17-Mar-2008

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Another banana workers leader has been assassinated in Guatemala. Miguel Ángel Ramírez, a member of the banana workers’ union Sindicato de Trabajadores Bananeros del Sur (SITRABANSUR), was shot dead on March 2, 2008. His killing is one of a series of acts of increasing violence against trade unionists in Guatemala.

On September 23, 2007 Marco Tulio Ramírez Portela of the IUF-affiliated banana worker unions SITRABI was shot dead as he was leaving his home for work. Marco Tulio was secretary of sports and culture of SITRABI, which organizes Del Monte workers.
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Four weeks ago the daughter of the General Secretary of SITRABANSUR was raped by armed men and the wife of Víctor Manuel Gómez, another SITRABANSUR leader, was threatened by armed men who told her that if they did not find her husband they would have no other option than to kill his family.

Since SITRABANSUR was established in July 2007 on a Pacific coast plantation owned by Frutera Internacional Sociedad Anónima, members have been harassed and threatened by private security guards. Some were illegally detained and pressured into resigning their union membership; at the end of November they were sacked from their jobs. Miguel Ángel Ramírez was among those forced to sign a resignation letter.

The killing follows just weeks after IUF and union leaders from around the world met with Guatemalan president Mr. Alvaro Colom to call on his government to do everything possible to stop violence against trade unionists and end the endemic impunity in Guatemala.
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