Friday, November 26, 2010

Urgent Action: Trade Unionist Mateo López Shot

A Guatemalan trade unionist, Mateo López, was shot on 28 October in Catarina, San Marcos province, north-western Guatemala. He has now left the hospital, but remains at risk of further attacks. It is believed that he was targeted due to his trade union activities.

Mateo López is Secretary General of the local branch of the Health Trade Union (Sindicato de Salud) and a member of the coalition, National Front for the Struggle (Frente Nacional de Lucha - FNL). Since January 2010, he has been very active in denouncing corruption in the health service.

On 28 October, at 2am, Mateo López left his house to take a bus to Guatemala City, the capital of the country, in order to attend a general assembly of the Health Trade Union. In the agenda of the meeting, there was a talk on a corruption case which he campaigned against.

While walking towards a bus stop, a red motorbike with two men on it approached him. The man riding passenger shot him five times. Mateo López received a shot in the stomach, two shots grazed him over the right shoulder, and the final two shots grazed him in the knees. Mateo López fell to the ground. The men were about to shoot him once more, but people in neighbouring houses started to turn on their lights and make noise. The attackers escaped.

The Health Trade Union campaigns for access to public health services, while the FNL campaigns on broader themes like access to better standards of public services at affordable costs. The FNL has promoted campaigns against the high costs of electricity. In the last year, eight trade unionists belonging to the FNL have been killed. Those killings have not yet resulted in any convictions.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Spanish or your own language.
* Call for an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the incident against Mateo López, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice.
* Urge that the authorities take immediate steps to provide appropriate protection to Mateo López and his family, in accordance with their wishes.


Acting Attorney General:

Licda. Maria Encarnación Mejía García de Contreras
Fiscal General de la República Interina
15ª Avenida 15-16, Zona 1, Barrio Gerona
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: 011 502 2411 9124
Salutation: Dear Attorney General / Estimada Sra. Fiscal General

Ministry of Interior:

Lic. Carlos Menocal
Ministro de Gobernación
6ª Avenida 13-71, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: 011 502 2413 8658
Salutation: Dear Minister / Estimado Sr. Ministro


His Excellency Georges De La Roche Plihal
Ambassador for the Republic of Guatemala
130 Albert Street, Suite 1010
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4
Fax: (613) 233-0135
Email :

Unidad de protección a defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos, the Unit that protects human rights defenders:

1 Calle 7-45 zona 1, Oficina 2-b
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala