In Guatemala, the Solidarity Center works to end discrimination on the job, help women and indigenous workers become strong union leaders, end impunity for violence against union activists and push for strong labor laws.
|Slain dockworker Pedro Zamora's mother lays flowers on his grave.
Guatemala is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. A 36-year armed struggle in Guatemala that ended in 1996 has left a legacy of violence, corruption and lawlessness that still permeates every level of society and governance. Although Guatemala, as a member of the International Labor Organization, is committed to uphold and respect freedom of association, union activists are illegally fired, threatened, attacked and murdered, while the perpetrators of the crimes go unpunished. In addition, unions are weakened by labor laws that restrict union membership and the right to strike.
In the workplace, women are discriminated against. They are paid less than their male counterparts and are harassed and sexually assaulted. At home, the violence continues. Indigenous, rural, migrant and domestic workers also are mistreated, and the government ignores widespread violations of child labor laws. Guatemala also is a source, transit zone and destination for human trafficking.
Enabled by global and regional trade agreements, employers routinely move their production across borders to minimize labor costs and bust union organizing campaigns. Manufacturing and processing plants are sweatshops, where workers’ demands for decent wages and working conditions are ignored.
Central American Trade Unionists Increasingly Targeted
. February 3, 2014—The murder last week of Victor Manuel Crespo Puerto, father of Honduran union leader Victor Crespo, is the latest in a deadly turn for trade unionists in Central America.
2014 Ushers in More Anti-Union Violence in Guatemala
. January 17, 2014—Guatemala’s first homicide of the new year took the life of 19-year-old Marlon Dagoberto Vásquez López, an active youth leader and member of the construction workers’ union, Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Construcción y Servicios de Guatemala (SINCS-G).
Guatemala: Global Unions Urge Justice for Murdered Unionists
. May 17, 2013—Worker rights groups are urging the Guatemalan government to bring justice to the families of the more than 56 trade union leaders killed in the past three years. No one has ever been convicted in Guatemala for killing a union leader.
Guatemala: Global Action Needed to End Murders of Union Members.
February 1, 2013—Since 2007, 64 trade unionists have been murdered in Guatemala, and hundreds more union leaders and members have been kidnapped, tortured and threatened with death—all part of an ongoing pattern of violations against worker rights, according to Britain’s Trade Union Congress (TUC).
INTERVIEW: Guatemalan Aluminum Workers Describe Abuse.
October 11, 2012—When Emeterio Nach suffered a shoulder injury at his job, he asked his supervisor at the Ternium aluminum processing plant in Villa Nueva, Guatemala, for time off to see his doctor. After the supervisor denied his request, Nach asked again.
Workers from around the World File Complaint with the ILO Urging Guatemala to Respect the Right of Freedom of Association.
June 18, 2012—Guatemala is among the worst violators of worker rights in the world today, according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
SITRABI Target of Deadly Anti-Union Repression in Guatemala.
February 10, 2012—Miguel Angel González Ramírez, a member of the Izabal banana workers’ union SITRABI, was killed on February 5. He was shot several times while carrying his young child in his arms.
Five Guatemalan Banana Workers Killed over Last Six Months.
November 1, 2011—Amid a climate of violence and impunity in Guatemala, five banana workers have been murdered since the beginning of April 2011.
Guatemala: Another SITRABI Member Assassinated.
October 13, 2011—The International Trade Union Confederation has joined with its Guatemalan affiliates, the CUSG, CGTG, and UNSITRAGUA, in condemning the murder of Henry Anibal Marroquin Orellana, a member of the Izabal banana workers’ union SITRABI.
Guatemala: Two More Women Workers Killed.
August 3, 2011—The delegates at the II Conference against Impunity in Guatemala, have condemned and expressed grave concern at the killings of two women, members of the national front for the defense of public services and natural resources, FNL.
Killings of Trade Union Activists Continue in Guatemala.
June 2, 2011—Yet another trade union leader has been brutally murdered in Guatemala for exercising his union activities.
Guatemala: Violence against Campesinos Continues.
May 27, 2011—Renewed attacks have been seen against campesinos in Guatemala.
Farm Workers Massacred in Guatemala.
May 18, 2011—The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has joined with Guatemala’s trade union as well as indigenous and campesino organizations in strongly condemning the massacre that took place between May 14 and 15 at the Finca Los Cocos farm in the municipality of La Libertad, in which 29 campesinos, including two women and three minors aged 13, 15, and 16, were murdered.
Fighting for Worker Rights in Guatemala.
June 23, 2009—The Solidarity Center's report, Justice for All: The Struggle for Worker Rights in Guatemala
, investigates the ongoing assault on worker rights in a country where the vestiges of colonialism and more than three decades of civil war are contributing to corruption and the brutal repression of workers.
Solidarity Center Joins Global Call to End Impunity Now in Guatemala
. February 8, 2008—Guatemala, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for trade unionists, was the site of an international conference on unions’ role in the fight against impunity.
Guatemalan Dockworkers Reinstated as Global Unions Push for Probe into Leader's Murder.
February 12, 2007. Unions around the world are putting pressure on the Guatemalan government to investigate the brutal murder of Pedro Zamora, General Secretary of the Dockworkers Union, STEPQ of Guatemala.
Related Solidarity Center Publications
- Justice for All: The Struggle for Worker Rights in Guatemala (2008) analyzes the overwhelming challenges that Guatemalan workers face in one of the most dangerous countries for trade unionists: crushing poverty, ethnic divisions, political fragmentation, and deeply rooted violence that has led to a culture of impunity.
- ITUC 2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights in Guatemala (English / Español)