Law 30 unleashes repression from the Martinelli government

With  Ricardo Abrego

“It was a massacre”


Ricardo Abrego, leader of the Banana Industry Workers Union (SITRAIBANA), spoke with Sirel about the brutal repression against the people of Bocas del Toro


-Were you there when the repression was unleashed?

-Yes, it was horrible, and the country is mourning its effects. This massacre caused by the government of Ricardo Martinelli left at least nine dead and hundreds injured or thrown in jail, and it’s a direct result of the approval of Law No. 30.


These are poor folks, farmers and rural laborers, and they never even for a minute imagined that the government would send the National Riot Police to come down on them as it did on Jul. 8.


They began by dropping tear-gas from helicopters, then went on to shoot rounds of pellets at us, and finally they opened fire with AK47s.


I still have pellets lodged in my body from the shots I received that day. Several fellow workers lost their sight, and many others are badly hurt.


When the government called in the anti-riot police from other provinces, with orders to repress, the police came down on demonstrators without stopping to see who they were going against: ordinary people rallying peacefully.


It was a massacre; we never expected such a brutal attack.


-What is the situation today in Bocas del Toro?

-We’re demanding that Bocas Fruit Company withdraw the court actions filed against trade unionists, and that there be no workers penalized or fired.


We’re also demanding that the authorities guarantee the protection of workers and their families, and that there be no more attacks on anyone who questions the government’s actions. In our case, as trade union leaders, we don’t feel safe.


The government has agreed to compensate the families of the victims, so we’re drawing up a list to submit to the authorities in charge of carrying out this agreement.


Also, medical assistance has been promised to anyone who was injured, and there are steps underway to obtain the release of the demonstrators arrested.



From Montevideo, Amalia Antúnez


July 15, 2010





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