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a361: St Raphael Mayor: scourge of the local workers' union (fwd)
>From Charles Arthur
"January 14 2002 - (AHP) - On Monday President Jean Bertrand Aristide encouraged the judicial system to redouble its efforts to fight against impunity. Aristide, speaking at the opening of the first legislative session of 2002, demanded a successful conclusion to the investigations in progress. The head of the state mentioned in particular the current investigations into the assassinations of the journalists Jean Dominique and Brignol Lindor.
He also referred to the investigations into the events of July 28, and December 17 2001, and into the assassination of the mayor of Saint-Raphaël, Sernand Sévère, which he strongly condemned. President Aristide indicated that the assassination of Sévère concerned him and should concern all democrats. At his request, one minutes silence was observed in his memory."
Charles Arthur comments:
The mayor of St Raphaël, Sernand Sévère, in February 2001 intervened to break the strike of plantation workers at the Guacimal orange tree plantation. Even though the right to form trade unions is recognised in Haitian law and in international conventions to which Haiti is party to, and even though the right of workers to go on strike is recognised across the world by progressive political currents, in Haiti the locally elected Lavalas Family official used his office to break the St Raphaël Guacimal workers' union strike.
I don't know the exact circumstances of Sévère's death, although I have heard that he was shot after he or his men shot the nephew of the local Lavalas Family deputy. The latter, I am informed, supported the Guacimal workers in their year-long struggle with the elite Zephir family who run Guacimal and the exploitative Novella coffee export company, and with the mega-rich multinational, Remy Cointreau.
One minutes silence for Sévère, but what about the violence against and intimidation of the Guacimal workers who legally registered their unions over a year ago and have still not been able to negotiate a settlement with the management? Although the Guacimal workers' struggle has been reported in the Haitian media, and is a matter of concern for progressive Haitians in the diaspora, as well as for unions and anti-globaliation activists in many countries across the world, we have not heard the head of state, or any Lavalas Family leaders or spokespeople for that matter, say anything about it.
What message is the Lavalas Family exactly sending to workers in Haiti who are consiering exercising their right to organise themselves and inevitably considering the possibility of using one of the only tactics available to them - withdrawing their labour?