13 September 2013 – Danne Lemones Smith, a union activist and former representative of the ITF-affiliated Costa Rican SINTRAJAP union, has reportedly been attacked at his home. The incident, on 25 August, came after he had talked to the media about privatisation.
SINTRAJAP (Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Junta Administrativa Portuaria JAPDEVA y Afines Portuarios) has reported constant attacks on its members since the government announced privatisation and concession plans in the state ports of Limón and Moin.
In 2010 a meeting of government representatives illegally nominated a new union board to purportedly serve the interests of government and enterprise. The Supreme Court subsequently invalidated the new union board and ordered the reinstatement of the original board – which had been democratically elected by workers. To date there has been no civil or criminal case brought against the officials involved in this meeting.
It was speaking out about this lack of redress that made Danne Lemones Smith the target of this latest violent attack, according to the union.
Ronaldo Blear, SINTRAJAP general secretary, commented: “We ask everyone to spread the information about this outrageous attack and to help us to demand to the authorities, to the Ministry of Labour and to the Government of Costa Rica, that they protect citizens and union representatives in order to avoid these acts without punishment and to generate more solidarity for our struggles.”
Antonio Rodriguez Fritz, ITF Americas regional secretary, said that SINTRAJAP has repeatedly been attacked, but union members have consistently managed to show that their struggle is honest, legal and democratic. They have overcome legal and illegal actions that have been committed against them, he stated, adding that cowardly attacks like this one show the desperation of economic groups who wish to administrate the ports.
If the police and the justice system once again do not prosecute the perpetrators and masterminds of these attacks, Fritz concluded, it will be very hard to believe that there is not some dark interest by some government officials. Transport workers are proud of the struggle and moral code of SINTRAJAP affiliates, he said.