Nearly five years after being fired from their jobs at the giant Piña Frut pineapple farm in Costa Rica, belonging to Grupo Acon, Leonora Mullins and Eddy Aguilar are back at work, according to the Make Fruit Fair campaign. Their union, SITRAP, took their case for unfair sacking to court.
An initial court resolution ordered their reinstatement back in April 2012, but it was challenged by the company and the appeal against the court order went to the Supreme Court. In October, the Supreme Court backed the resolution ordering reinstatement and back pay for the two workers.
At a meeting with Grupo Acon’s human resources manager on April 26, it was agreed they could start working again from the following Monday.
Read the full story: http://www.makefruitfair.org.uk/news/costa-rica-workers-reinstated
Humanitarian news website Reuters AlertNet reports that the number of Guatemalans going hungry is set to rise as the Central American nation faces more food shortages after devastating floods washed away crops.
Agatha, the first named storm of this year's Pacific hurricane season, lashed Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador last weekend, killing at least 180 people - most of them Guatemalan - and leaving tens of thousands homeless.
Strong winds and torrential rains in Guatemala, which recorded the highest rainfall in over 60 years, triggered landslides and severe flooding, washing away fields of maize, banana, sugar cane and coffee.
"We are facing a very difficult situation. Without doubt the food crisis is going to get worse and we can expect to see more cases of malnutrition," Rubelci Alvarado, programme manager with Save the Children, told AlertNet by phone from Guatemala City.
Cautious optimism greets Obama victory
Congratulations poured in from Latin American leaders, media and the general public in response to the election of Barack Obama to the White House in November. For Latin Americans, the victory represented a capacity and desire for change many had believed impossible under the previous inertia of the US electoral system. Afro-American communities in Latin America celebrated with extra enthusiasm.
There is cautious optimism the new administration will end the divide-and-rule
bullying of the Bush administration, which attempted to coerce Latin American
countries to accept the Washington economic model through “free trade” agreements and foreign policy initiatives driven by counter-terrorism and the war on drugs.
For several weeks from mid-October, Honduras and Guatemala were drenched by heavy rains caused by a slow-moving tropical depression. Areas of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize also experienced flooding and landslides. A November update from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 320,000 people had been affected in Honduras and 150,000 in Guatemala. At least 60 people were killed and tens of thousands made homeless.
Aid workers said the disaster in Honduras was the worst since the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch a decade ago. They fear the flooding – which washed away crops as well as houses – will push malnutrition higher in a region already struggling with food price inflation. OCHA has warned that the most vulnerable communities have lost their livelihoods and income, and their living conditions will remain precarious for several months to come.
MANY CHARACTERIZED the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns as a David and Goliath struggle. Although the locally funded grass roots door-to-door strategy facilitated unprecedented broadbased mobilisation around the trade agreement, it was up against an internationally backed fear campaign administered by the Costa Rican and US governments, and multinational companies, as well as a pro - t reaty media.
“It is clear that pro-‘free trade’ forces identified Costa Rica as a pivotal battleground for their model,” said Phil Jocelyn from the New York People’s Referendum on Free Trade. “The amount of funds that the ‘Yes’ side had at its disposal was practically limitless, and as a result, Costa Ricans were submitted to a nine-month long advertisement for CAFTA.”
FORMIDABLE struggle in Costa Rica ended on October 7 with a referendum on the free trade treaty the country signed in 2004 with the US, other Central American countries and the Dominican Republic. The ‘Yes’ vote gained just over 51 percent, beating the ‘No’ vote narrowly by about 50,000 ballots.
For three years, a huge resistance blocked ratification, until the decision to call a referendum to resolve the conflict. It was the first time the country had carried out a popular consultation like this, and the first referendum on a free trade treaty in Latin America.