Guatemalan Trade Union leader murdered

Chris Brady chris_brady at
Fri Jun 30 00:39:56 MDT 2000

Brussels June 28 2000 (ICFTU OnLine): Oswaldo Monzon, General
Secretary of the Fuel Transportation Drivers' Unions was found dead on
June 23, after he disappeared on June 22. It is assumed he was
murdered because of his trade union activities.

Oswaldo Monzon, who worked for J.O. Gaitan, a fuel transport company
owned by Mario Ortiz, began receiving threats from his boss in October
1998 after he had formed a trade union in the company. He was later
fired, and brought a legal case against his employer for compensation.
In addition, in the course of its work the union has denounced fraud and

corruption in the fuel trade.

Last week, when the case came to court, Ortiz offered Monzon a very
small amount of compensation, saying that if he refused it he would
face the consequences. Monzon refused. Monzon was supposed to
travel to Escuintla last Friday, but brought forward his travel date
receiving a phone call on Wednesday evening requesting him to change
his travel plans. He was never seen again.

A second incident of trade union intimidation has occurred at the same
time. Jose Pinzon and Rigoberto Duenas, General Secretary and
Assistant General Secretary of the General Workers Union of
Guatemala (CGTG) have been receiving persistent death threats,
including a message which appeared on the outside wall of their union
headquarters saying "Death doesn't just happen, it is earned".

The ICFTU has written to President Alfonso Portillo urging him to open
an official investigation into the murder and to bring the perpetrators
justice, and to ensure that all trade unionists are allowed to carry out

their work without being harassed.

Because of the severe violations of trade union rights in Guatemala,
earlier this month at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, the

Committee on the Application of Standards examined how far trade
unionists in Guatemala have full freedom of association, to which they
are entitled because Guatemala has ratified Convention 87.

The ICFTU is urging all members of its trade union rights committee, all

international trade secretariats, and all its affiliates to write to
President Portillo immediately to express their horror at the continuing

murders, violence and intimidation of trade unionists in the country.

For further details please contact ICFTU Press Department on:
 ++322 224 0212


ICFTU OnLine 145/000628/DD

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