Saturday, 12 October 2013

New attacks and death threats against union members in Guatemala

The global union federation Public Services International calls on Guatemala's President to take urgent action to protect trade unionists, in response to seemingly coordinated attacks on PSI affiliate members this week. PSI calls on trade unions around the world to lobby their governments to withdraw from any trade deals with Guatemala until the escalating reign of terror marked by murders and intimidation of union members ends. Workers who expose cases of corruption by elected and military officials, or simply advocate for their legal rights to fair wages and working conditions, are being systematically targeted.

On 2 October 2013, Melvy Lizeth Camey Rojas, the Secretary of SNTSG Health Center of Chiquimulilla in the Department of Santa Rosa, was in fear of her life for the second time, when gunmen on a motorcycle came looking for her at her workplace. According to witnesses, these people shared similarities with those who assassinated SNTSG Labour Advisor Ricardo Morataya Lemus and seriously wounded Rojas in an attack in July 2012.

On 6 October, Genaro Cruz Telon of Chinebal (Izabal region), former secretary and a member of SNTSG, was gravely wounded in an attack, and is now in a coma. A man has been charged.

On 6 October, Mauricia Garcia Ruiz, General Secretary at the Children's Hospital for Infectious Disease and Rehabilitation, Guatemala City, received a death threat.

On 7 October, SNTSG Organizing Secretary Dora Regina Ruano received death threats against herself and her children.

These attacks follow the cases of 58 trade unionists murdered in recent years in Guatemala.

Emphasizing what she told Guatemala's President, Labour, Health and Interior Ministers in a face-to-face meeting in August, PSI leader Rosa Pavanelli says that, "Defending the rights of our affiliate trade union members in Guatemala is our top priority – and will remain so until the situation for workers in this country improves. The criminalization of social conflicts and blacklisting of union activists must end. We ask for your government's commitment to engage in meaningful collective bargaining in the public sector as an essential step in this process. We demand respect for the right to life, the recognition that there is an anti-union campaign in this country, and that there must be an end to impunity."

PSI Public Services International

Do you have a story to tell? Contact 'Let's Hear You!' and let us know!