Unions call for a new chapter in US-Honduras relations

By David Bacon

A new report by US trade unions has strongly criticised the US government’s policies in Honduras.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre led a delegation of US labour leaders to meet with their Honduran counterparts.

“What we witnessed was the intersection of our corporate-dominated trade policies with our broken immigration system,” he said.

The delegation’s report, Trade, Violence and Migration: The Broken Promises to Honduran Workers, offers a frank assessment of the history and impact of US foreign policy in Honduras.

As well as being one of the most unequal countries in Latin America, Honduras also sends the largest number of unaccompanied minors to the US from Central America.

Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America and a participant in the delegation, told Equal Times: “We need to look at our own immigration policy, concentrating enormous resources on deportation and nothing on resettlement.

“We need to look at the trade deals, in this case, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), that accelerated free market devastation.”

After the 2009 coup that overthrew the country’s elected president, Manuel Zelaya, the US raised only pro-forma objections and then quickly restarted military aid to the junta that seized power.

“Under the left-leaning Zelaya administration, the minimum wage was raised by 80 per cent, direct assistance was provided to the poorest Hondurans, and poverty and inequality declined,” the report says.

After the coup, however, “numerous trade unionists and community activists who participated in resistance were killed, beaten, threatened and jailed,” it says.

Based on extensive interviews with unionists, the AFL-CIO report details current abuses of labour and human rights.

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