Costa Rica: Campaign against the persecution of trade unionists

Solidarity appeal for David Morera and Marvin Marin

After the imposition of the free trade agreement (TLC – Tratado del Libre Comercio) between Costa Rica and the United States, ratified by a national referendum on 7 October 2007 which was marred with irregularities and denunciations of fraud, the government of Oscar Arias has intensified its repression of trade union leaders who are active amongst those where resistance against the free trade agreement, and its implementation, was the biggest.

It is in this context that the comrade Marvin Marín Mora, workers at the San Juan Dios Hospital and international secretary of the Health and Social Security trade union (SISSS – Sindicato de la Salud y la Seguridad Social), affiliated to the CGT trade union federation, is now being victimised. He is being investigated and faces disciplinary action for attending a meeting on the 6 of July 2007, in his capacity as trade union leader. In this meeting, with the Medical and Adminstrative management team of the Costa Rican social security fund, he negotiated on behalf of the membership of the trade union with management. He is being accused of leaving his workstation to attend this meeting. Marín has had to undergo a lengthy and exhausting administrative procedure, clearly with the aim of harassing him, for a meeting which he had to attend in his function of workers representative.

Another investigation is being aimed at the comrade David Morera Herrera, who was the general secretary of the SISSS trade union at the time and is now finance organiser for the same trade union. He is being threatened with dismissal because he spoke negotiated with two security officials who blocked the entrance to the hospital to a delegation of the CGT and the Costa Rican Student Federation (FEUCR – Federación de Estudiantes de la Universidad de Costa Rica) who wanted to attend a workers meeting at the hospital to express their solidarity with the workers struggle organised by the trade union. The management of the hospital concocted a story as a pretext to investigate and discipline David Morera Herrera.

The SISS trade union: a fighting union

It is no coincidence that one of the demands that trade union put forward on the 24 of January, in a document signed by more than 400 workers, was the replacement of the internal administrator of the hospital, Ms Dinorah Garro.

This administrator has proved with her interventions in the Hospital San Juan de Dios to be an adversary of the workers and their trade union independence. The trade union SISS, for example, has lead a valiant struggle against the attempts to privatise parts of the hospital and dismantle the orthopaedics ward.

It is worth pointing out that David Morera Herrera and Marvin Martín Mora are working class activists and fighters with a long track record in the popular and workers’ movement. David Morera Herrera is chair of the executive committee of the Costa Rican Revolutionary Workers’ Party (PRT) and was a candidate in the last national elections for the coalition ‘United Left’. Marvin Martín Mora was a candidate in the local elections for the same coalition ‘United Left’.

It is clear that the persecution of both of these comrades is with the intention to weaken the Costa Rican labour movement and trade union movement.

Other victimisations in the labour movement

On the 4 of March of 2008 the comrade Alicia Vargas Obando, secretary for women’s work at the trade union of the National Insurance Institute, has been dismissed from her job. This injust dismissal has been ratified by the constitutional court. This decision is yet another act of the court proving its servility to the government.

The political offensive against trade union activists is clear. The cases of the INS and the CCSS are not isolated. These come on top of attempts to sack Fabio Chavez, general secretary of the workers association of the Costa Rican institute of Electricity (ASDEICE) and against other leading members of this trade union as for example Franciso Aguilar and Jorge Vega.

José Luis Castillo, leader of the dock workers’ trade union for the cities of Limón and Moín. Both of these ports are marked for privatization in the plans connected to the Free Trade Agreement.

We ask you to send letters of protest immediately to the following addresses:

Ing. Eduardo Doryan,
Presidente Ejecutivo de la Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social
Fax: ++506 2222 39 60
Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez, Casa Presidencial
Fax: (++506) 2253-9087

Please copy messages to

Junta Directiva de la CCSS
Ministerio de Trabajo
Organización Internacional de Trabajo
y al fax (506) 2224-2678

Send copies of your message to


Model letter in Spanish:


Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez

Presidente República de Costa Rica

Ing. Eduardo Doryan Garrón

Presidente Ejecutivo

Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social (CCSS)

Las y los suscritos, en nombre de la organización______, tenemos conocimiento de que existe un proceso administrativo disciplinario con propósitos de despido contra dos dirigentes del Sindicato de la Salud y la Seguridad Social (SISSS), David Morera Herrera, secretario de Finanzas y Marvin Marín Mora, secretario de Asuntos Internacionales.

En el caso de Marvin Marín Mora se le persigue por supuesto abandono de trabajo, por asistir a una reunión con las autoridades institucionales el día 06 de julio del 2007. En el caso de Morera Herrera por su desempeño en el marco de una asamblea realizada en el Hospital San Juan de Dios el 28 de enero del 2008 y protestar ante medidas autoritarias impuestas por la administración.

Es muy grave que esta persecución se suscite precisamente contra dirigentes sindicales que ha rechazado enérgicamente el Tratado de Libre Comercio con Estados Unidos que su Gobierno adhiere, y es una muestra más de que con estos Tratados se limitan los derechos democráticos y laborales más elementales para la clase trabajadora. Más grave aún que esta situación ocurra en el marco de la intervención del Hospital San Juan de Dios, cuando justamente los dirigentes del SISSS han denunciado una serie de irregularidades y arbitrariedades al efecto.

Es lamentable que un Gobierno presidido por un premio Nóbel de la Paz, recurra a esta ofensiva antisindical.

Por medio de la presente solicitamos el archivo inmediato de los expedientes administrativos que se siguen en contra de Morera Herrera y Marín Mora y el pleno respeto al fuero, ala autonomía y a la libertad sindical.


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March 2008