Violence against trade union leadership continues in Guatemala

October 23, 2013
Melvy Lizeth Camey Rojas, Secretary General of the Department of Santa Rosa in Guatemala has had her life threatened a second time (October 2013).
Latest update: On October 11, Juan Jose Ortiz, SNTSG member and Financial Secretary of the Health Centre of Barberena Santa Rosa, was kidnapped on his way to the city centre. For more than 24 hours he was held captive, threatened and tortured. On 12 October, he was bundled into a car for a short drive, his eyes were then uncovered and he was left in the centre of Barberena. Mr Ortiz does not remember much of what happened; he was apparently drugged and received cigarette burns on his eyelids and eyebrows. He fears for his life and that of his family.

We urge the Government of the Republic of Guatemala to investigate this new fact, punish the culprits and put an end to the intimidation of trade union leadership. For more information, see the SNTSG Press Release (in Spanish only).

PSI calls on all its affiliates to write in English or Spanish to the President of Guatemala to express deep concern and call for immediate action.

Background information:

The attacks reported by SNTSG include:

On 2 October 2013 at 15:00, 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 armed men with nine-millimeter pistols on a motorcycle came looking for her at her workplace, likely with the intention to kill. According to witnesses, these people shared a lot of similarities with the murderers who killed Labour Advisor Ricardo Morataya Lemus with several gunshots, and seriously injured Rojas in the same attack last July.

On 6 October at 8am, Genaro Cruz Telón of Chinebal in Izabal region, former secretary and member of the SNTSG, was seriously wounded in a brutal attack. Jorge Benjamin Cuc Caal from Chinebal has been charged. Mr Cruz is in a coma due to his injuries.

On 6 October, the General Secretary of the Children's Hospital and Rehabilitation, Mauricia Garcia Ruiz received a death threat, and on 7 October the Organizing Secretary of the Executive Committee of the SNTSG, Dora Regina Ruano received death threats against herself and her children, via telephone.

These follow on the cases of 58 trade unionists murdered in recent years, and in particular the murders in March 2013 of Carlos Hernandez and Santa Alvarado of SNTSG (National Health Workers’ Union of Guatemala) and Kyra Zulueta Enríquez Mena (Union of the Municipality of Nueva Concepción).

PSI affiliates are asked to use the following model letters (English/Spanish) and send your protests to Guatemala’s President now.

 

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