Field Trip to Central America to reaffirm solidarity

by Maira Vannuchi, StreetNet Organizer

In the second half of September 2018, StreetNet Organizers Maira Vannuchi and Oksana Abboud went visiting three countries of Central America to meet StreetNet affiliates in Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Starting in Honduras, two organizers met the international coordinator Pat Horn in San Pedro Sula to carry out a 5 days’ workshop on collective bargaining with FOTSSIEH – StreetNet affiliate and a Regional Focal Point of the Americas.

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Besides the workshop, the visit was an opportunity for Pat Horn to train Maira, Americas organizer in the StreeNet’s methodology of formation, preparing her to carry on the educational work, build to organize, share information, deepen the knowledge about advocacy work, empower, enhance the ability to create and maintain internal democracy and equality in the organizations,  and yet to create tactics and strategies to push to warranty rights and policy in defense of street vending.

In Honduras, the organizers and the coordinator had a meeting with FOTSSIEH interim board direction to reaffirm our solidarity, to know their main challenges and opportunities and to dialogue about the region conjuncture, sharing perspectives. They visited markets in San Pedro Sula and in Tegucigalpa and visited a project of community-based shop cooperative experience in a tiny village belonged to a group of manual mine workers.

In Nicaragua, the board of CTCP-FNT (Confederación de los Trabajadores por su Cuenta Propia)  invited us to a meeting to talk about their structure and internal democracy, about workers in informal economy in the country, the policies and perspective of the government, the challenges in a national context and about them returning to StreetNet what would be later seriously reconsidered.

At last but not least, we went to Costa Rica to visit StreetNet affiliate SINTRACOPEA, which presented us a newly formed and very much ally SINTRAFIENS, which unites mobile street vendors, while SINTRACOPEA is currently more focused on licensed commerce workers, to know about the street vending reality in the country, a national strike that was being held for over 20 days  against a reform that will take away rights from public sector workers. All trade union confederations of the country joined to stop this with support of society. The opportunity of being in San José, took to go vising the regional ILO office, and the specialist Katia Gil, who used to be a coordinator of a recent implemented project in El Savador, Honduras and Costa Rica on developing a pilot experience of implementing the ILO Recommendation 204 through the tripartite dialogue, and always with municipal power (not federal).

The trip was a great opportunity to get closer of the affiliates and reaffirmed our solidarity and our bonds in the struggle for the right of work in the informal economy and to build StreetNet International from bellow.