Seven current or former members of the Guatemalan banana workers’ union have been murdered since 2011. Most recently, Miguel Angel González Ramírez, a member of the Izabal banana workers’ union, was shot while he was holding his young son.
No one has been arrested for the murders that the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP) calls “the slow moving massacre of the largest private-sector union in Guatemala.”
On the day of Ramirez’s murder, the Guatemalan government had lifted its 24-hour security protection for the union’s secretary general.
In 2008, under the terms of Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), the AFL-CIO and six Guatemalan unions filed a complaint with the Labor Department outlining the systemic failure of the government of Guatemala to enforce its own labor laws or to take reasonable action to prevent violence against trade unionists.
In 2009, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) named Guatemala the second most dangerous country for trade unionists, behind Colombia. Click here to read a Solidarity Center report on workers’ rights in Guatemala.
Meanwhile, says USLEAP, violence has sky-rocketed against one of the main filers of the complaint, SITRABI, sending a clear message to trade unions in Guatemala that it could be dangerous to engage in the DR-CAFTA process.