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Victory for Free Speech and Democracy in the Costa Rican Trade Union Movement

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  • Glenn Kirkindall
    Victory for Free Speech and Democracy in the Costa Rican Trade Union Movement September 30, 2006 Dear Brothers and Sisters, The power of international
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 5, 2006
      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.
      In Solidarity,

      Fred Hyde
      Washington Federation of
      State Employees, Local 304
      (206) 854-9057
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