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NUPGE calls on Guatemalan president to end repression of trade unionists

“Repression and violence against workers and their unions must end.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (16 July 2020) — Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), has sent a letter to the President of Guatemala, calling for an end to repression and violence against workers and unions.

NUPGE joins together with allies in Public Services International (PSI), who initiated the letter campaign, to support fellow trade unionists in Guatemala.

Violence, rights violations on the rise

Brown sent the letter (written in Spanish and here quoted from the English translation) to President Alejandro Eduardo Giammattei Falla to express “concern about a recent marked increase in violations of the right to freedom of association, collective bargaining, and human rights in general in Guatemala.”

At least 5 trade unionists have been assassinated since January 2020, and there are reports of other assassination attempts.

For example, José Guadalupe Hernández, an affiliated member of the Legislative Workers' Union (STOL) of Guatemala, was murdered in the centre of Guatemala City on June 2. This assassination took place in the context of intensifying repression against STOL, its leadership, and affiliated members. STOL has been actively campaigning against layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enough is enough

Brown joined PSI in calling on the Guatemalan president to put a stop to the violence and human rights violations: “We call for the prevalence of common sense and dialogue based on respect for trade unions and human rights.”

“Repression and violence against workers and their unions must end,” he continued. “A full and independent investigation of the murder of Brother José Guadalupe Hernández and the other union leaders and activists who have been killed or suffered assassination attempts must be completed.”