Jorge Acosta - Asociación Sindical de Trabajadores Agrícolas y Campesinos (ASTAC) (Trade Union of Agricultural Workers and Farmers)
Union leader and human rights defender Jorge Acosta, coordinator of the banana workers’ union ASTAC (Asociación Sindical de Trabajadores Agrícolas y Campesinos), which organises around 1,500 banana workers across the country, is a well renowned human rights defender who has worked for over ten years to address labour rights, health and safety issues and environmental impacts in the banana sector. Jorge Acosta is also the president of the Ecuadorian Consultative Council for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU, a dialogue mechanism between civil society and various Ecuadorian government bodies, established to ensure a correct implementation of the FTA. He reportedly receives a number of threats, including death threats, related to his labour rights work. On April 18, 2019, Jorge Acosta was notified that an official complaint had been filed to the Ecuadorian Attorney General by a private individual. The complaint accused Jorge Acosta of “creating economic panic”, a crime chargeable with five to seven years in prison according to article 307 of the Comprehensive Organic Penal Code. According to the complaint, Jorge had spread false information in order to hurt the economy of the country and in favour of competitors. The accusations made against Jorge Acosta came shortly after he published a complaint directed to the European Commission stating that Ecuador is in breach of the part of the FTA with EU concerning respect for basic labour rights. The complaint alleges the persistence of informal working relationships, exploitation of workers, undue deductions from workers’ salaries, a breach of the monthly minimum wage and restrictions of the right to freedom of association. It also highlights negative impacts on the health of workers exposed to agrochemical products used intensively in banana production.