The IUF and unions internationally are mobilizing to stop the judicial persecution of Honduran union leader Moisés Sanchéz, who faces up to 30 years’ imprisonment on ludicrous charges in a courtroom on January 22.
Sanchéz is general secretary of the sub-section of our affiliated agroindustrial union STAS on the melon farms of the transnational company Fyffes in Choluteca.
Moisés will be tried on January 22 on criminal charges stemming from the construction of an access road by the rural community of La Permuta in November 2018. The community assembly of La Permuta voted to construct the road on the basis of assurances by the mayor that the land was public property. Before the road was built, La Permuta residents had limited access to the farms in Choluteca, and were cut off during the rainy season. Now a local landowner who leases property to Fyffes has brought charges for ‘land usurpation’ against Moisés and 5 elected community leaders. Sanchéz is not an elected community leader, but simply one of some 450 residents of La Permuta who voted for construction of the road.
Sanchez, who survived a machete attack by assailants in 2017, the year he was also fired by Fyffes, is among the victims of anti-union violence under government protection. Since October 2019, he has again been the target of surveillance and threats.
In tripartite proceedings over 2018-2019 the ILO documented the grave threats to the lives and security of trade unionists in Honduras, including Moisés and other members and officers of STAS, and enjoined the government to take strong measures to protect those threatened with anti-union violence and allow trade unions including STAS to exercise their internationally-exercised rights in an environment free of violence and threats.
This attempt to imprison him on spurious charges appears part of the longstanding campaign to decimate STAS at Fyffes’ Choluteca plantations.
The IUF and its regional organization for Latin America, together with the Network Against Anti-Union Violence in Honduras and unions internationally, have called on the government to drop the charges against Sanchéz and provide all necessary protection to STAS and other unions facing persecution and violence. STAS President Tomás Membreño says “We will accompany Moisés and we will mobilize in front of the court to demand justice.”
The IUF has called on Fyffes to immediately cease its campaign of intimidation and harassment against STAS, recognize the elected leadership of the STAS local at Fyffes, and end its refusal to collectively bargain with the democratically elected, legitimate, independent STAS local union.