Guatemalan union leader Anastacio Tzib Caal was shot and killed on June 15 in a targeted murder in the municipality of Villa Canales, outside of Guatemala City. Anastacio dedicated his life to improving working conditions in Guatemala’s apparel sector. He was recently elected general secretary of the SITRATEXPIA II union at SAE-A Trading’s Texpia II apparel factory, which produces garments for several global brands, including Gap, Carhartt, Target and Walmart. The murder comes after a resurgence in calls for violence against labor leaders at the factory three months after the union had initially engaged with the company management to respond to earlier threats.

The ITUC has again rated Guatemala as one of the 10 worst countries in the world to be a worker, with more than 111 murdered trade unionists since 2004.

Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau offered this statement:

“The Solidarity Center condemns the June 15 murder of Anastacio Tzib Caal and extends its deepest condolences to his family, the two children he leaves behind, and his union sisters and brothers in SITRATEXPIA II.

“The assassination of General Secretary Tzib Caal comes after repeated death threats against union leaders at the factory. The Solidarity Center stands with the leaders of SITRATEXPIA II in calling for a robust investigation of the perpetrators of this heinous crime under the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes Against Trade Unionists.

“Threats against union activists and violence against elected union leaders stand in direct contradiction to the principles of worker rights and empowerment.

“The Solidarity Center urges buyers like Gap and Target to redouble their commitments to freedom of association and collective bargaining with their suppliers; support the union’s proposed labor-management plan to counter the perception, brought on by the assassination, that union activism is synonymous with death; and maintain their commitments to creating good jobs in Guatemala in partnership with SAE-A Trading.

“The support we are seeing across the global labor movement for the new Arévalo administration’s commitment to workers’ human rights gives us hope for a future where workers can exercise their rights without fear of violence.”

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