Trade Unionists Call For Justice In El Salvador
11 January 2011
Only days before the 19th anniversary of the signing of the Chapultepec Peace Accords, a powerful group of international
trade union leaders has publicly called upon El Salvador’s authorities to resolve outstanding cases of murders by death
squads, placing advertisements in El Salvador’s national press.
The advertisements, appearing in La Prensa Grafica and Co Latino today, highlight the case of Gilberto Soto, the Teamster Union official who was assassinated in El Salvador in November
2004 during a visit to the country to build a solidarity network between transport workers and their unions in the
United States and Central America.
The global coalition of union presidents includes twenty-four leaders from eighteen countries on six continents, many
from Latin America.
“Nineteen years after the signing of the Chapultepec Peace Accords, people around the globe are watching to see if El
Salvador is prepared to protect the rights of its citizens to participate in union activities and other forms of
engagement in civil society without risking their lives,” stated Paddy Crumlin, President of the International Transport
Workers’ Federation (ITF) and General Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia. “We are especially alarmed that the
forces of reaction continue to threaten officials, such as Zaira Navas, who are seeking to end corruption and ensure
that no one, regardless of rank or class, is allowed to act outside the law with impunity.”
The advertisement in today’s newspapers calls on President Funes and the Assembly to protect Zaira Navas, and calls on
the attorney general to insure transparent and effective investigations of crimes. “People from all sectors of society,
all social classes and all political parties must give their support to anyone who is committed to ending corruption and
to punishing those who commit these crimes. We call on Attorney General Romeo Barahona to appoint an official who is
willing and able to effectively investigate the murder of Jose Gilberto Soto, as well as other killings by death
squads,” state the union leaders in their declaration.
“This is our first public statement,” said David Cockroft, General Secretary of the London-based ITF. “But behind the
scenes, the ITF and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) have expressed concern previously that Soto’s
death was linked to his trade union activities, and have filed a complaint with the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of
Association regarding the case.”