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What sort of country is Costa Rica?

Whilst trade unionists across Central America in countries like Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala continue to pay the ultimate price for their struggles for basic rights and social justice in Costa Rica there are also serious issues.

Costa Rica continues to be a bit of a poster child for the region with eco-tourism developing fast and a very high rating in various ‘happiness’ ratings of good places to live. However the government of President Oscar Arias Sanchez appears to be instigating a raft of polices aimed at persecuting and vilifying trade unionists in flagrant breach of core ILO labour standards including those which cover the basics of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Management backed unions and fake ‘co-operatives’ are being established.

The latest case concerns workers fighting privatisation of the port facilities in Limon. Faced with the establishment of a management backed shell union members of SINTRAJAP occupied various port facilities. Faced with the threat of violent intervention by the police they withdrew on 25 January but their fight goes on.

The international trade union movement is highlighting the case and encouraging others to email the Costa Rican president to ask him to respect his citizens’ rights to organise; he can be reached at

Sam Gurney

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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