Guatemala: Tomás Francisco Ochoa Salazar, trade unionist From SITRABREM, was shot and killed last September.

Author: Jeff Abbott, Upside Down World, (Guatemala), Published on: 19 October 2017

“Being a Trade Unionist in Guatemala Will Get You Killed”

The assassination of another union organizer has sent shock waves across the union movement in Guatemala. Tomas Francisco Ochoa Salazar, from the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Empresa de Carnes Procesadas Sociedad Anónima (SITRABREMEN), was shot and killed on Sept. 1 as he left the meat processing factory where he worked… His murder highlights the risk that union organizers face in Guatemala… Ochoa Salazar…was the acting Secretary of Disputes and a key organizer with the union. He spent years working in BREMEN Meats’ meat processing plants... In 2016, he and other workers began the work to form a union within the plant…In early 2017, Ochoa Salazar and the others organizers won a substantial victory: the union was officially recognized by the Guatemalan Ministry of Labor… The victory came after a year of organizing within the meat processing factory…This was not the first time that workers had attempted to organize. In the 1980s there was an attempt to organize, but the company squashed the union before it formed. The Guatemalan legal system has regularly, and systematically failed to investigate these assassinations, and continually failed to respect and enforce labor rights. The assassination of Ochoa Salazar is no different…As a result of targeted violence, organized labor has steadily declined in the last two decades since the end of Guatemala’s 36-year-long internal armed conflict. In 1996, organized labor represented 12 percent of workers at the time of the signing of the peace accords, but today organized labor only represents 1.2 percent of workers…Tomas Francisco Ochoa Salazar, [is] the 87th union leader assassinated since 2004.


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