Joviel Acevedo (STEG, Guatemala)
Joviel Acevedo (STEG, Guatemala)

Guatemala: Education union leaders under attack for defending quality public education

published 31 May 2024 updated 3 June 2024

Education International Latin America (EILA) has written to the government of Guatemala to protest the persecution of the leadership of its member organisation in the country, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Educación de Guatemala (STEG).

STEG representatives at both national and municipal levels have been targeted. The intimidation campaign against the union leaders has intensified following the massive protests organised by STEG on 2 May in defence of public education. The education union publicly deplored that for decades, the various governments of Guatemala have not only neglected their responsibility to ensure quality public education but have also promoted the privatisation and commercialisation of education.

The attacks against the trade unionists infringe on their fundamental rights and go against the recommendations of the United Nations High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession which call on governments to “fully implement enabling rights for education and decent work for teachers, in line with international standards, including freedom of association and collective bargaining, freedom of expression, freedom of thought and academic freedom” (Recommendation 2).

STEG called on the government to invest in quality public education and to convene national commissions to tackle the education funding gap through policy dialogue. The union’s position is in line with the United Nations recommendations which state that “coordinated and institutionalised social dialogue between governments, representative teachers’ organisations and relevant employers’ organisations should be the principal means for developing policies on education, teaching and the teaching profession” (Recommendation 48).

In its letter, the EILA regional committee, chaired by Sonia Alesso of CTERA Argentina, called on the government of Guatemala to engage in dialogue with STEG representatives. EILA also called on President Bernardo Arévalo and on Minister of Education Anabella Giracca to ensure the human and trade union rights of the STEG leadership at the national, departmental, and municipal levels. EILA strongly urged the authorities to take measures to stop the intimidation campaign against the national leadership of STEG and stated that the authorities are responsible for the safety of each union leader.