Victory for Free Speech and Democracy in the Costa Rican Trade Union Movement
- Victory for Free Speech and Democracy in the
Costa Rican Trade Union Movement
September 30, 2006
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The power of international solidarity manifested itself in an
important legal victory on September 14, 2006!
On that date the Penal Court of the First Judicial Circuit of San
José threw out as untimely a defamation lawsuit filed by Albino
Vargas, Secretary General of the National Association of Public and
Private Employees in Costa Rica, against union leader and activist
David Morera. The attorneys for the National Association of Public
and Private Employees (ANEP) informed Morera that they would not
appeal the court's decision.
ANEP was seeking millions of dollars in damages for statements Morera
made in 2003 as organizational secretary for the Union of Employees
of the Social Security Institute. Morera criticized ANEP for being
willing to participate in backroom negotiations with corporate
executives and the government to soften the impact of the Central
America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) instead of mobilizing mass labor
opposition in the streets to achieve the complete defeat of the
thoroughly anti-labor trade accord.
The action by the court and by the attorneys for ANEP came after an
inter-national campaign urged ANEP to forgo the lawsuit and, instead,
engage a democratic discussion and debate of the differences between
Morera and Señor Vargas over the best tactics for defeating CAFTA.
Costa Rica is the only country in Central America that has signed the
agreement but has not ratified it through its legislature.
Petitions from the United States with over 460 signatures in support
of Brother Morera's campaign for free speech were delivered to the
offices of ANEP and the press several days prior to the trial. They
were presented in person by Guerry Hoddersen, International Secretary
for the Freedom Socialist Party, and Moisés Montoya, member of the
IFPTE Local 21 in San Francisco. The petitions sent a strong message
that workers in the United States are deeply concerned that using the
courts to silence dissent in the labor movement undermines the fight
against neo-liberalism and free trade agreements like CAFTA.
With the lawsuit resolved, Brother Morera and other union leaders and
organizations, including Señor Vargas and ANEP, are turning their
attention to organizing a general strike against CAFTA on October 23
and 24, 2006. Statements of international solidarity with the
general strike can be sent to Luis Alberto Salas Sarkis, Secretaria
General, La Central General de Trabajadores, Apdo. 10061-1000, San
José, Costa Rica.
Thanks to all those who signed and circulated the petitions urging
ANEP leaders to drop the lawsuit against David Morera. It is an
important example of how we can work together to advance the
interests of the international labor movement at this critical time
in our history.
Washington Federation of
State Employees, Local 304