Human rights organization condemns murder of Guatemalan labor leader

We condemn the massacre in the Colonial Sindical! We demand an investigation into the murder of a labor leader of the health workers sector!

En Español

  1. The International Center for the Investigation of human rights –CIDH- and Security in Democracy – SEDEM- , energetically condemn the murder of LUIS OVIDIO ORTIZ, leader of the Health Workers union, of the national Front of Struggle and of the Neighborhood Health Committee, Zone 17.

  2. This crime was carried out the night of Saturday, 24 of March when heavily armed men, moving in two vehicles, fired automatic weapons against a group of people who were gathered on a corner of the working class barrio.

  3. As a result of the attack, five persons were killed, among them Ovidio Ortiz, who received 30 shots in his chest and head. The other victims are children of labor leaders or persons in labor unions, since most people who live in this Public Health Community are workers in the health system.

  4. The attack took place the same week in which the government of retired general Otto Fernandez Molina, declared a salary increase to Public health workers, as a result of a suit carried out by the sector’s union. This murder is similar to what occurred in 1980 when General Romeo Lucas Garcia authorized the presence on the ballot of United Front of the Revolution –FUR – and then murdered its leader, Manuel Colom Argueta.

  5. This same week in an unusual move, the questioning of the head of Finances, Pável Centeno, was suspended, apparently as a result of pressure from his family which has reaped millions in benefits from contracts to sell medicines to the health system. This family has served different governments benefiting from the contracts over the past 20 years.

  6. This deed also responds to another behavior pattern which is the increased aggression against people who gather in the working class communities over the weekends. This situation occurred for the first time in the early hours of January 15, 2012 in zone 6 , in which military forces beat up several young persons. A similar action took place against youth of El Mezquital two weeks later, but this time it was carried out by men dressed in black and ski masks. And now we have an attak with weapons which has left five persons dead.

In view of these incidents, the CIDH and SEDEM;

  1. Demand from the Public Ministry a professional investigation, which examines the various hypothesis all related to the role of defender of human rights within labor which Ovidio Ortiz carried out. This investigation should consider the participation of providers to the State and some government officials, like the authorities linked to the security system.

  2. We urge the Public Ministry not to give any opinion until the investigations have been exhausted and whoever is found to have been involved is processed as the material or intellectual organizer of this massacre.

  3. We demand that the Office of Human Rights for once and for all assume its role as defender and protector of human rights in Guatemala and that it investigate this massacre and that it publicly report on its work.

  4. We extend our fraternal condolences to the family of Ovidio Ortiz, to the victims of this massacre and to the health sector of the labor movement and to workers in general in the aftermath of this horrible crime.

  5. We call on the entire people of Guatemala to repudiate this crime energetically, to demand that the authorities carry out an exhaustive investigation and to work towards the ending of this wave of crime and violence.

International Center for the Investigation of Human rights (CIDH)

Security in Democracy (SEDEM)

Guatemala, March 25, 2012
Published by the Association COMUNICARTE


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