Behind the Lines

Bolivia Crackdown

POLICE OFFICERS AND MASKED CIVILIAN AGENTS of Bolivia's Ministry of Government conducted a massive crackdown on union activity in April 1995.

 On April 18, officers and agents raided a meeting of the Bolivian Workers Central (COB) union and arrested union leaders. The COB had voted to continue a three-week general strike in protest of government reform policies. Soldiers also arrested the entire membership of the Andean Council of Coca Producers, which represents campesinos from Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. The government then declared a "state of siege" and ordered an end to the strike, banning demonstrations and union meetings.

 Press reports say the crackdown may be rooted in demands by the U.S. government to eliminate 1,750 hectares of coca crops, or face a cut-off of aid and international bank credits.

 Many union leaders not arrested have gone into hiding. Teachers union leader Telmo Román said the country's 70,000 teachers will continue to strike until the state of siege is lifted and the unionists are freed. Bolivian Press Federation's Iván Miranda accused the government of negotiating in bad faith while "preparing to stab the union in the back with the state of emergency, assault and prison," reports Latinamerica Press.

 The Catholic Church, which was mediating negotiations between the union and the government, condemned the crackdown and asked that the detained unionists be released.

Marcelo de Urioste, press and cultural counselor with the Bolivian Embassy in Washington, D.C., states that the state of siege was declared as a "preventative measure" against separatist elements in the province of Tarija, and because of the teachers' strike, which he says is illegal.


NAFTA Runaway

ONE YEAR AFTER THE IMPLEMENTATION of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Morristown, New Jersey-based Allied-Signal has earned the dubious distinction of being the company charged with the most NAFTA-related layoffs, according to a May 1995 report by the Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC).

 In 1993, Allied-Signal Chair and Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Bossidy led USA*NAFTA, the corporate-funded lobby for NAFTA. Bossidy predicted NAFTA would create a net increase in U.S. jobs and denied any suggestion that the agreement would provide incentives for his own company to move jobs to Mexico. On CNN's "Moneyline," on August 23, 1993, responding to whether or not he felt NAFTA would result in jobs moving to Mexico, Bossidy said, "I think the jobs that were to move to Mexico have already moved there. I mean, there['re] more than 700,000 employees in the Mexican maquiladoras now!"

As a result of Allied-Signal shifting jobs to Mexico, CTC reports workers in five U.S. cities have petitioned for NAFTA Transitional Adjustment Assistance, the retraining program set up to help U.S. workers who lose their jobs as a result of NAFTA. In February 1995, the U.S. Department of Labor determined the 170 Allied-Signal workers were layed off because the company shifted production from its Greenville, Ohio plant to Moneterrey, Mexico. Wages at Allied-Signal's Monterrey plant had dropped from $1.30 to 82 cents an hour in January following the peso crisis. In 1994, workers applied for adjustment assistance following layoffs at Allied-Signal plants in El Paso, Texas; Eatontown, New Jersey; Danville, Illinois; and Orangeburg, South Carolina.

 "The Allied-Signal case clearly illustrates who the winners and losers are under NAFTA," says Sarah Anderson, one of the report's authors. "Mexican workers' wages have plummetted while the company's CEOs took home some of the highest salaries in the country."

 Allied-Signal did not return calls from Multinational Monitor.

 CTC lists 21 other USA*NAFTA members who have also carried out NAFTA- related layoffs, including Xerox, Zenith, W.R. Grace, Sara Lee and Digital Equipment.


DowElanco Fined

THE U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) assessed a $732,000 penalty against DowElanco in May 1995 for failing to report information on the adverse health effects of a number of the company's pesticides, including chlorpyrifos (brand name Dursban).

 Dursban is the leading brand used for termite control in the United States. It is also used on more than 90 crops.

 The penalty is the largest to date under a section of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) that requires pesticide companies to submit information regarding adverse effects of their products. DowElanco reported 249 incidents of health problems caused by its pesticides well after the 30-day time period specified in the EPA guidance. The health effects included neurological problems such as persistent headaches, visual disturbances, problems with memory, confusion and depression. A few incidents involved other problems such as asthma or birth defects.

 "EPA is concerned about underreporting of pesticide adverse effects incidents," says Steven Herman, EPA's assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance. "We expect to be taking further actions against registrants that have not reported incidents."

Dr. Lynn Goldman, EPA's assistant administrator for prevention, pesticides and toxic substances, noted that this action is particularly important because EPA is currently reviewing the registration for chlorpyrifos.

 A DowElanco statement said, "We have made a careful evaluation of the reporting process by which we provide information to EPA and have committed additional resources in order to avoid a repetition of these issues in the future."

 DowElanco emerged from a joint venture of Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical and Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly.

 - Aaron Freeman