Violence against SITRABI continues

Five union members murdered

in less than a year



On February 5, Miguel Ángel González Ramírez, a member of the Union of Banana Workers of Izabal (SITRABI) was gunned down as he returned home from a soccer game in the Morales municipality village of El Cedro, department of Izabal. This death brings the number of SITRABI members slain in the last 10 months up to 5.


The violence against SITRABI has been escalating over the last year and is being denounced nationally and internationally by this historical banana workers’ union, one of the largest labor organizations in Guatemala.


“The murder of our fellow unionist Miguel Ángel González Ramírez has not only cast a pall over our organization yet again, it is another blatant sign of the high level of insecurity we are living in.”


“We are being attacked relentlessly and murdered, as the situation becomes more and more difficult with each passing day,” Noé Ramírez Portela, general secretary of SITRABI, told SIREL.


According to Ramírez, a dozen leaders and members of the organization have been murdered in attacks by unidentified perpetrators since 2007, when his brother, SITRABI union leader Marco Tulio Ramírez Portela, was killed. Five of these deadly attacks occurred within the last 10 months alone.1


None of these crimes has been investigated by law enforcement authorities.


SITRABI issued a public statement denouncing the situation of vulnerability and total lack of protection its leaders and members are under.


It also accused the authorities of turning a blind eye. An example of this deliberate neglect is the decision by the new Otto Pérez administration to remove the security guards that had been appointed to protect SITRABI’s general secretary.


“No reason was given for this decision. I simply received a written communication from the Vice Minister of the Interior announcing that my protection was being cancelled. This is an irresponsible decision that puts my life at risk,” Ramírez Portela said.


Lastly, SITRABI demanded that the authorities launch an immediate investigation to find Miguel Ángel González Ramírez’ killers, that security guards be reappointed to protect Noé Ramírez, and that the safety of all its union leaders and members be guaranteed.


“This new murder represents a direct attack on our organization. We need to make this situation known to the world, and we thank our sister organizations, like the IUF, for their solidarity,” Ramírez Portela concluded.




From Managua, Giorgio Trucchi


February 16, 2012





1 Oscar Humberto González Vásquez (4/10/11), Idar Joel Hernández Godoy (5/26/11), Henry Aníbal Marroquín Orellana (9/24/11), Pablino Yaque Cervantes (10/16/11), and Miguel Ángel González Ramírez (2/5/12)


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