March 19, 2016
By Steven Wishnia
Washington, DC – The AFL-CIO is urging Secretary of State John Kerry to demand an independent investigation of the March 3 murder of Honduran activist Berta Cáceres.
The federation joined with more than 100 other groups in signing an open letter sent March 10, which said an independent investigation was “essential” because of “the lack of confidence in the judicial system” and “the abysmal situation of human rights in Honduras.” It also said the U.S. should insist that Honduran authorities prosecute the “intellectual authors” of the killing. Cáceres, an indigenous-rights and environmental activist, was shot to death by a group of men who broke into her house in the town of La Esperanza, near the El Salvador border. About 200 Honduran political dissidents, including labor activists, have been killed since 2009, when a U.S.-backed military coup deposed President Manuel Zelaya.
The AFL-CIO and Honduran unions filed a complaint in 2012 that the new government had failed to protect labor rights supposedly guaranteed by the Central American Free Trade Agreement, but those commitments “remain unfulfilled,” a federation blog post said March 4. The letter was also signed by the United Automobile Workers, the Communications Workers of America, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East–Florida, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas. Read more