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July 28, 2009
Apparel brands with production in Honduras, including adidas Group, Nike Inc. and Gap Inc., released a joint letter sent to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "calling for the restoration of democracy in Honduras" following the June 28th military coup. The brands urged "an immediate resolution to the crisis" and asked that "civil liberties, including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association be fully respected."
The Maquila Solidarity Network welcomes the statement but asks why other major international brands and manufacturers with a presence in Honduras have remained silent.
"Until now, businesses and business associations - including those in the textile and apparel industries, which account for the majority of Honduras' exports - have publicly supported the coup, lobbied against trade sanctions, or remained silent and carried on business as usual under the military-imposed regime," says Lynda Yanz, Executive Director of MSN. "This letter from major sportswear and apparel brands breaks that silence and calls unequivocally for the restoration of democracy in Honduras. These international brands are not taking sides on internal politics in the country. They are saying that political differences must be resolved democratically."
"Unless companies doing business in Honduras speak out in favour of democracy ," says Yanz, "we can only assume that they agree with the position of the business associations to which they belong that have either supported the coup or called for business as usual."
"Business as usual is not an option," says Yanz. "Honduras is a country where the democratically elected president has been removed from office, civil society leaders have been assassinated, journalists are being detained, offices of trade union and civil society organizations are being broken into and robbed, legal demonstrations have been tear-gassed and broken up, and media critical of the new regime is being silenced."
"Thankfully," says Yanz, "the brands that signed this statement are taking seriously their responsibility to Honduran workers and their rights and civil liberties. The question that remains is: Where are the other companies that are doing business in Honduras, including the three largest foreign investors in the country's apparel sector -- Fruit of the Loom/Russell Corporation, Hanesbrands and Gildan?"