Guatemala: death threats against union leader and family

The ITUC is calling on the government of Guatemala to provide immediate protection to trade union leader Carlos Mancilla and his family following a series of death threats.

On 31 March, Mr 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 Mr Mancilla’s house and said that they had followed his daughter but held back from killing her.

Mr Mancilla is general secretary of 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.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: “The threats to Carlos and his family are real. Their lives are in danger and the government must act to protect them and to identify the people behind the threats and bring them to justice.

“These events take place in the context of increasing insecurity and attacks on the union movement in Guatemala, in addition to an explosion of unresolved labour disputes and a campaign to discredit and stigmatise workers’ representatives in the Tripartite Commission.”

Safety and freedom

Between 2012 and 2018, the International Labour Organization (ILO) considered establishing a Commission of Inquiry to investigate serious abuses of freedom of association, including threats and assassinations of trade unionists, in Guatemala.

The ILO Governing Body decided not to proceed after the government of Guatemala committed to a roadmap for reform and established the Tripartite Commission.

The ITUC calls on the Guatemalan government to:

  • urgently implement all necessary measures to ensure the physical integrity and safety of Carlos Mancilla and his family;
  • carry out an immediate, impartial and credible investigation into the death threats, and bring those responsible to justice in accordance with international labour standards and human rights law;
  • guarantee that Guatemala’s trade union leaders can carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals and free from all restrictions; and
  • immediately cease the campaign to discredit and delegitimise the current workers’ delegates to the Tripartite Commission on Labor Relations and Union Freedom.