29 November 2013 – The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) has demanded the reinstatement of protection for a dock workers’ union leader in Guatemala whose life is in danger.
The ITF acted following an attack on the family of Lázaro Ramos, who is secretary general of the ITF-affiliated STEPQ (Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Empresa Portuaria Quetzal) union. Ramos had been granted police protection after interventions by the ITF following the assassination of one of his predecessors, Pedro Zamora, in 2007; immediately after the murder, Ramos began to receive death threats similar to those sent to Zamora before he was killed by hired gunmen.
Despite continuing threats, Ramos’s protection was removed earlier this year; it was then reinstated at the request of the International Labour Organization (ILO) – but only in the form of one guard, leaving his family open to attack. On 14 November, armed assailants broke into a relative’s house a few steps from Ramos’s own house, boasting that they were acting on orders “from above”.
STEPQ and the ITF believe this latest assault is linked to attempts to have the union abandon its lawful resistance to part of the port of Quetzal being privatised and handed over to the Spanish company TCB (Barcelona Container Terminal). In September the government-appointed mediator told Ramos that he could have “anything he wanted” if his union would abandon the case.
In a letter to President Molina dated 22 November, ITF acting general secretary Steve Cotton demanded the urgent reinstatement of protection for Ramos and challenged the president over the behaviour of his mediator.