Trade union leader Carlos Mancilla

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has condemned the death threats received by Carlos Mancilla, General Secretary of the CUS-G – a Guatemalan national trade union centre.

The ITUC has called on the government of Guatemala to provide immediate protection to Mancilla. He leads one of the country’s largest trade unions.

On March 31, an anonymous caller phoned Mancilla and members of his family to tell them they were being watched. The caller was able to name each member of the family one by one.

They sent Mancilla a photo of his home and said they had followed his daughter but held back from killing her.

Sharon Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, 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.”

Burrow added that these calls were an attempt to disrupt Mancilla from his work on a Tripartite Commission on Labour Relations, “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.”

Violence has been a regular part of the history of trade unions in Guatemala. As an experienced unionist, Mancilla will be familiar with this. Since 2004, at least 87 trade unionists have been killed in the country.

The ITUC had considered establishing a Commission of Inquiry to investigate what it called “serious abuses of freedom of association” and the murder of unionists. But it held back when the government laid out a roadmap to address concerns. Part of this was launching the commission on which Mancilla sits.

As part of its statement, the ITUC has called on the government to protect Mancilla and his family, investigate all threats, and guarantee labour rights. They also told the government to stop ‘delegitimising’ the work on the commission.

Last year, Guatemala was one only of six countries, where trade unionists were murdered, alongside Colombia, Brazil, Myanmar, Nigeria and the Philippines.

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