Belonging to a trade union in Guatemala has been hazardous since the 1954 coup when they were virtually outlawed, but violence against Unionists has picked up in the past five years. According to this article in the Tico Times, over the past five years, 58 trade unionists have been killed and zero suspects have been arrested. Labor activists say that number is actually too low and a lot of murders have not been reported. In a country with notoriously high impunity rates where something like 98% of crimes go unpunished and an anti-labor administration, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise. From the article:
¨Last week, Public Services International (PSI), a global trade union federation representing 20 million public-service workers, including those of SNTSG, appealedto Pérez Molina to speed up investigations into the 58 murdered unionists.
“We urge that you as president, and the authorities of the Prosecutor’s Office, the National Police, and the Interior Ministry order an immediate and thorough investigation into these cowardly acts, and use the full extent of the law so that those responsible are arrested and promptly tried,” PSI Secretary General Rosa Pavanelli said.
¨The Guatemalan government insists it is doing all it can to improve the situation in the country.
“In March of this year, we set up a trade union roundtable with the interior minister and all of the trade union leaders,” Guatemalan Labor Minister Carlos Contreras Solórzano said. “The aim is to develop preventive policies to avoid attacks against workers and trade-union leaders and to exchange information to fight the criminals and perpetrators.”