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8322: Urgent action - Guacimal/Cointreau (fwd)
15 June, 2001 - Urgent action issued by Batay Ouvriye and forwarded by the
Haiti Support Group.
The arrest of peasant leader involved in union dispute with
Guacimal/Cointreau appears to be part of a new anti-union crackdown.
Anioguel Bell, member of the executive committee of the Guacimal Peasant
Association, was arrested on Thursday, June 14th 2001, after being 'fingered'
by the Guacimal/St Raphael plantation supervisor, Jean Marie St. Fleur. He is
presently in jail in St Raphael.
The Union of Guacimal/St Raphael workers have recently been on strike in an
attempt to force the Guacimal owners to negotiate improved pay and working
conditions. In May, union members and the newly formed Guacimal Peasant
Association joined forces to occupy the Guacimal orange plantation to protest
against continuing anti-union discrimination and repression.
(see: Urgent action in support of Cointreau workers' union - May 17 2001
Last week, the workers found one of the plantation buildings broken into
during the night. The lock was open but intact. A few days later, on Monday,
June 11, Jean Marie St Fleur, the company supervisor who had led the recent
anti-union activities and who had not been seen since the plantation was
occupied, reappeared, accompanied by a Justice of Peace and police officers
who took note of belongings missing from the building (a bed and a mattress).
On Thursday 14th, police arrived at Guacimal. Jean Marie St Fleur was with
them. They went to several workers' homes and even brutalised one of the
committee members' mother. At the third place where they stopped, Jean Marie
St Fleur was distinctly heard saying "get that one". Anioguel Bell, who was
returning barefoot from work in the fields, was violently arrested and not
even allowed to change clothes or put on shoes.
Batay Ouvriye sees clearly here the beginning of a new anti-union crackdown
orchestrated by the Haitian owners of the Guacimal S.A. company. (Guacimal
S.A., in which Remy-Cointreau has a minority share, exports orange peel to
France where it is used to manufacture the Cointreau liqueur.) Batay
Ouvriye, the Guacimal/St Raphael Workers'' Union, the Guacimal Peasant
Association, the various unions united in the Intersyndicale Premier Mai
Union Federation, and the unions' legal advisers, the Groupe d'Assistance
Juridique, are mobilising to put an end to this situation.
Please support the independent workers movement in Haiti by writing to
Remy-Cointreau, the immensely powerful and rich multinational drinks company
based in France. Ask Remy-Cointreau to instruct their Haitian middlemen
(Guacimal S.A.) to cease their anti-union activities immediately, and to
enter into meaningful negotiations with the legally registered workers'
unions and associations, in line with Haitian labour law.
Please write to:
Dominique Hériard Dubreuil
152, avenue des Champs-Élysées,
or to :
Rémy Cointreau Amerique
1350 Avenue of the Americas, 7th Floor
Fax : (1) (212) 399 6909
For background information on the orange workers' struggle see:
The Haiti Support Group web site campaigns section:
Multinational Monitor's Winning Campaigns:"Haiti's Thirst for Justice":
Batay Ouvriye web site:
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The Haiti Support Group - solidarity with the Haitian people's struggle for
justice, participatory democracy and equitable development, since 1992.