The death threats against longhsore union leader Victor Crespo started soon after he began organizing workers at Puerto Cortez in Honduras where International Container Terminal Services Incorporated (ICTSI) was awarded a lucrative 30-year contract last February to operate in Central America’s only deepwater port.
The death threats were honored during the early morning hours of September 14 when armed thugs broke into Crespo’s home to attack him, but left when neighbors awakened, saw what was happening, and caused the attackers to flee. As the thugs departed, they warned him to stop organizing dockworkers – and vowed to return in a few hours if he was still there to carry out their death threats.
Crespo, who serves as General Secretary of the Sindicato Gremial de Trabajadores del Muelle (SGTM), is being temporarily sheltered in another country until the Honduran Government guarantees his safety and honors the union’s application to represent dockworkers at ICTSI’s new operation. Crespo and his union are being assisted by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), a global federation of unions including the ILWU.
“Maritime unions around the world are learning about the threat that privatization and corporate greed pose to human rights,” said ILWU International Vice President (Mainland) Ray Familathe who also serves as Second Vice Chair of the ITF Dockers Section.
“Victor Crespo is one of many courageous union leaders on the front lines who deserve our support.” ICTSI won a controversial “public-private partnership” with the Honduran government and a wealthy private bank (Ficohsa). The deal anticipates ICTSI will spend 4 million over the next ten years for new terminal facilities, including 12 cranes that are expected to move 600,000 containers a year – each generating a royalty of . ICTSI operates internationally at 27 ports, including the Port of Portland where it has blatantly violated terms of the ILWU-PMA contract and has been the target of legal action by both the ILWU and Pacific Maritime Association.