No guarantee of rights

Same as last year


Guatemala is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people

  • Violence against trade unionists

  • Climate of fear and impunity

  • Anti-union dismissals

Guatemala has long been plagued by endemic violence against workers. Engaging in trade union activities remained extremely dangerous and often resulted in death threats and murder. Impunity prevailed as the government failed to provide timely and adequate protection to trade unionists who received death threats and failed to investigate and prosecute anti-union crimes.

Furthermore, employers largely used union-busting practices, such as summary dismissals, to circumvent workers’ representation and collective bargaining.

Workers' rights violations

Violent attacks on workers

On 16 June 2021, Edgar Alejandro Talento and Jaime Col Ical, members of the company union at Fritolay Guatemala, were attacked by unknown assailants. Jaime escaped unscathed, but Edgar was severely injured and taken to the hospital.


On 7 May 2021, Cinthia del Carmen Pineda Estrada, 35 years old, was fatally shot in front of her house in the Chaparro Zacapa neighbourhood (Guatemala). Estrada was a primary school teacher and leader of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Educación de Guatemala (STEG). The Public Prosecutor's Office has not provided any information on the perpetrators or the causes of this crime.

Violent attacks on workers

On 31 March 2022, Carlos Mancilla and his family members received anonymous phone calls warning that they were being watched and mentioning each person in the family by name. The callers sent a photo of Mancilla’s house and said that they had followed his daughter but held back from killing her.

Mancilla is general secretary of the trade union centre CUS-G, president of Guatemala’s Tripartite Commission on Labor Relations and Freedom of Association, and a titular member of the ITUC General Council. These events took place in the context of increasing insecurity and attacks on the union movement in Guatemala and in addition to an explosion of unresolved labour disputes and a campaign to discredit and stigmatise workers’ representatives.

Violent attacks on workers

On 30 August 2021, members of the Sindicato de Trabajadores General Portuario, SINTRAGENPORT, of the Empresa Portuaria Nacional Santo Tomás de Castilla received death threats by unidentified individuals who called them. Members threatened were all members of the Board of Directors: Victor Oliva, general secretary; Marcos Eliú Castellanos Nufio, deputy general secretary; Edwin Martínez, secretary of finance; Rafael Aquino, secretary of inter-union relations; Arturo Arzú, secretary of social prevention; José Eduardo Saldaña, secretary of sports; and Melvin Larios, secretary of the consultative council. The union had denounced anomalies and acts of corruption in procurements.

Right to justice

In Guatemala, the pervasive climate of repression, physical violence and intimidation against workers and trade unionists was compounded by the government’s failure to pursue the many historic cases of murders and other violent crimes. The labour justice system remained broken, and only a handful of the hundreds of murder cases were solved, usually many years later.

Guatemala is a new entry in the ten worst countries for working people as workers faced endemic violence for union activities.Orlando Estrada / AFP

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