There was a clearly discriminatory situation in Guatemala in which extremely stereotyped social, economic, political and cultural roles were assigned to men and women; that situation resulted in subordination of Guatemalan women in virtually all of the areas and at all the levels covered by the articles of the Convention.
Gender and Race in Guatemala
Women in the Labor Force
Guatemalan women with little or no education or vocational training have few options for salaried work. A traditional option has been paid domestic work in private households; a more recent option has been work in the maquilas. In the former case, young women and girls have long traveled from rural villages to work in homes in the capital and other urban areas. Historically, Mayan women have swelled the ranks of the domestic workforce and, even though the government claims they now constitute only half of all domestic workers, continue to be identified with paid domestic help. In the latter case, the advent of the maquila sector in the 1980s meant a boom in factory jobs for women, particularly in the capital and the surrounding area. Women are the majority of maquila workers, due to a combination of employer preference for a female workforce and the appeal for young women of a job that would provide an alternative to domestic and agricultural work.
Domestic workers do not have their own union in Guatemala, nor is any existing trade union doing any kind of organizing among domestic workers.179 Instead, these workers gather together through a handful of nongovernmental and faith-based associations. The Support Center for Household Workers (Centro de Apoyo para las Trabajadoras de Casa Particular - CENTRACAP) was founded in 1991 to improve the plight of domestic workers. In recent years, CENTRACAP has focused its energies on lobbying Congress to pass a special law in favor of domestic workers' rights. San Benito House (Casa San Benito) and Conrado de la Cruz Project are two organizations run by the Catholic Church that provide a variety of direct services to domestic workers. While San Benito House is focused exclusively on domestic workers, of all ages, Conrado de la Cruz specializes in the needs of younger workers, and includes in their programs maquila workers as well as street vendors. All three organizations offer free classes, ranging from literacy to guitar and sewing lessons. These organizations have formed a loose coalition to promote legislative reform on behalf of domestic workers' labor rights.180
Three women's rights organizations based in Guatemala City have programs with maquila line operators. The Association of Women in Solidarity (Asociación de Mujeres en Solidaridad - AMES), Women for the Betterment of the Family (Grupo Feminino Pro-Mejoramiento de la Familia - GRUFEPROMEFAM), and the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (Centro de Acción Legal de Derechos Humanos - CALDH) all conduct labor rights education workshops. AMES and GRUFEPROMEFAM have programs devoted to reproductive rights and family planning, and AMES runs a medical clinic providing obstetric and gynecological care. CALDH runs a legal clinic, with one full-time lawyer charged with offering legal advice to women maquila workers and taking cases through the Ministry of Labor system. A special ILO program, the Project for Women Working in the Maquila Sector, also conducts training workshops with maquila employees, on subjects such as labor rights and reproductive health. In keeping with the ILO tripartite structure, the project was designed to target not only workers, but also government officials and employers. In Chimaltenango, the Center for Studies and Support of Local Development (Centro de Estudios y Apoyo al Desarrollo Local - CEADEL) monitors abuses in the maquilas and provides services to youth employed in the factories.
The United States has played a key role in the development and expansion of the maquila sector in Guatemala. Throughout Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, the United States government, through the Agency for International Development (USAID), has promoted nontraditional exports as an engine for growth and industrial development since the 1970s.189 USAID began implementing its export-oriented development assistance in Guatemalan in the mid-1980s, when U.S. aid to Guatemala was reinstated following the election of a civilian president. Since that time, USAID has provided critical financial and technical assistance to the Guatemalan Nontraditional Products Exporters Association (Asociación Gremial de Exportadores de Productos No Tradicionales - AGEXPRONT). In 1990, USAID funded over four-fifths of the organization's budget.190 Throughout the 1990s, USAID continued to provide general, unearmarked funding to AGEXPRONT. In 1999, the agency signed a cooperative agreement with the business group for a total of U.S. $2,252,010 to fund a variety of AGEXPRONT activities, with a primary focus on nontraditional agricultural exports. Current funding does not support any programs with the apparel manufacturing sector.191
Numerous U.S. companies subcontract apparel production to maquilas in Guatemala, including large, well-known corporations such as The Gap, Liz Claiborne, Inc., Target Corporation, and The Limited. It is extremely difficult to ascertain what labels are being produced at any given time. U.S. companies are under no legal obligation to disclose their outsourcing partners and few maquila workers have the ability to track which labels they are producing. Only a handful of maquilas in Guatemala are owned by U.S. citizens. The last U.S. company to directly manage an assembly plant in Guatemala, the shirt company PVH, closed the plant in December 1999.
The apparel maquila sector is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, due in large part to a new trade arrangement with the United States. In October 2000, President Clinton officially designated Guatemala as a beneficiary country under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA). The CBTPA, passed by Congress under the Trade and Development Act of 2000 in May 2000, extends duty-free and quota-free treatment on imports of certain apparel items from Guatemala (among other countries) that were previously excluded under another trade act, the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI).193 To be eligible, the apparel must be assembled from fabric made and cut in the United States, or fabric made in the United States from U.S.-made yarn.194 Luis Oscar Estrada, the head of VESTEX, estimates that the trade deal will spur the creation of 15,000 new jobs.195
The peace process marked a pivotal moment in the growth of both the women's movement and the indigenous rights movement in Guatemala. Older and more recently established organizations in both movements now face the challenges of a post-conflict period. As these groups struggle to find their voices, communication among them is often problematic. Civil society has several governmental interlocutors on women's rights. The National Office on Women (Oficina Nacional de la Mujer - ONAM), created in 1981, is the oldest governmental entity charged with overseeing state policies on women's rights. For years, women's rights advocates have lobbied for the creation of a ministerial-level National Institute for Women, which would effectively replace ONAM as the central oversight body. Instead of this proposed institute, President Portillo created the Presidential Secretariat for Women (Secretaría Presidencial de la Mujer) in May 2000, as an advisory body located bureaucratically within the presidency.212 The Office for the Defense of Women's Rights (Defensoría de los Derechos de la Mujer) has been part of the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office since 1991. It has a general mandate to promote and monitor the implementation of gender equality in all spheres: social, political, economic, and cultural. One of its objectives is to bring national law into full compliance with international human rights norms, as well as implementation of peace accord commitments with respect to women's rights. The Office for the Defense of Indigenous Women's Rights (Defensoría de la Mujer Indígena) was called for in the Indigenous Rights Agreement213 and officially installed as part of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights (Comisión Presidencial de Derechos Humanos) on July 21, 1999. Finally, with respect specifically to working women, the Ministry of Labor has a Working Women's Unit (Sección de Promoción y Capacitación de la Mujer Trabajadora) charged with promoting women's equal participation in the workforce, educating working women about their rights, and fostering understanding within the labor ministry of gender-specific labor rights.
149 Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 13th Session. Concluding Comments of CEDAW after consideration of the initial and second combined periodic reports. United Nations Doc. A/49/38, 12 April 1994, para.78.
150 The number of indigenous people in Guatemala is subject to considerable debate. Much depends on how surveys or studies define indigenous identity: use of traditional dress and/or language, geographic origin, self-identification, etc. The Guatemalan state has changed its own criteria. The 1981 census found that only 41.8 percent of the population was indigenous. In 1998-1999, that figure was 48.6 percent. Many observers argue the real figure is probably somewhere between 50 to 60 percent. Even then-president Jorge Elías Serrano stated in 1991 that 60 percent of Guatemala's population descended from the Maya civilization.
151 The Mayan communities, in alphabetical order, are: Achí, Akateko, Awatateko, Ch'orti', Chuj, Itza, Ixil, Keqchikel, K'iche', Mam, Mopán, Pocomchi', Poqomam, Popti', Q'anjob'al, Q'eqchi', Sakapulteko, Sipakapense, Tektiteko, Tz'utujil, and Uspanteko.
152 Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala of May 31, 1985, Article 66. The Constitution entered into force on January 14, 1986. Garífuna, the Afrocaribbean population of Guatemala, are also subject to considerable racism.
153 World Bank, "Country Brief: Guatemala," May 1999, http://www.wb.org/html/extdr/regions.htm (April 13, 2000).
154 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Guatemala: La fuerza incluyente del desarrollo humano. Informe de Desarrollo Humano 2000 (Guatemala: The inclusive force of human development. Human Development Report 2000) (Guatemala City: UNDP, 2000), p. 43. Other reports place this figure much higher. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC/CEPAL) estimates that 69 percent of the population in Guatemala lives below the poverty line. ECLAC/CEPAL, Notas de CEPAL. Número especial: Panorama Social de América Latina 1999-2000 (Special edition: Social Panorama of Latin America 1999-2000), September 2000, No.12, p.4.
155 Ibid, p. 43. A 1994 study found, rather, that almost 87 percent of indigenous people in Guatemala live in poverty, compared to 54 percent of non-indigenous people. G. Psacharopoulos and H.A. Patrinos, Los pueblos indígenas y la pobreza en América Latina: un análisis empírico (Indigenous peoples and poverty in Latin America: an empirical analysis), Estudios sociodemográficos en pueblos indígenas, Serie E, No. 40 (LC/DEM/G.146), Santiago de Chile, División de Población, Centro Latinoamericano y Caribeño de Demografía (CELADE), 1994.
156 UNDP, La fuerza incluyente (The inclusive force), p. 125.
158 UNDP, Human Development Report 2000 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp.257-258.
159 Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE) (National Statistics Institute). Encuesta Nacional de Salud Materno Infantil 1998-1999 (National Maternal-Infant Health Survey 1998-1999) (Guatemala City: INE, July 1999). Ladina, or non-indigenous, women have an average of 4.3 children.
161 UNDP, Human Development Report 2000, p. 111.
162 Guatemalan Labor Code, Article 151 (a) and (b). The article allows for exceptions based on the "nature" of the job. Employers in these cases must receive prior authorization from the Labor Inspectorate and the National Office on Women. The Guatemalan Constitution also proscribes discrimination based on marital status (Article 102(k)). Notwithstanding these prohibitions, Human Rights Watch researchers consistently found job announcements that were sex specific in their requirements in the three major national daily newspapers.
163 Guatemalan Civil Code, Articles 114 and 113, respectively. The Constitutional Court of Guatemala upheld these and other articles in a 1993 decision, arguing that they were not discriminatory against women: "In marriage there is a role for each of the spouses, those that are determined by the State within the traditional Guatemalan values and the diversity of conceptions, customs and national beliefs in relation to marriage. The State has regulated the institution [of marriage] with precise norms to give certainty and legal security to each of the spouses." Constitutional Court, Case No. 84-92 (June 24, 1993), Gaceta de la Corte de Constitucionalidad. .
164 Facultad Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (FLACS0) (Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences), "Mujeres Latinoamericanas en Cifras" (Latin American Women in Statistics), http://www.eurosur.org/FLACSO/mujeres/guatemala/trab.htm (January 27, 2000).
165 INE. Encuesta Nacional de Ingresos y Gastos Familiares 1998-1999 (National Survey of Family Income and Expenditures), p.38. This figure includes workers age seven and above. Another source claims that there has been an eight percent annual growth in women's participation in the workforce between 1990 and 1998. UNDP, La fuerza incluyente, (The inclusive force), Graph 3.10, p.55.
166 FLACSO, "Mujeres Latinoamericanas en Cifras" (Latin American Women in Statistics).
167 Women in Development Network (WIDNET), "Statistics - Latin America and the Caribbean: Labour," http://www.focusintl.com/statr4a4.htm (January 27, 2000).
168 UNDP, La fuerza incluyente (The inclusive force), p.55. The Guatemalan governmental statistical institute's yearly National Survey of Family Income and Expenditures, on which these figures are based, considers all employees of businesses with fewer than five workers to be part of the informal sector. This definition mirrors that adopted by the ILO: the formal sector is composed of those employed in businesses with over five workers, as well as independent and technical professionals.
169 The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) found that women's participation in the labor force throughout the region has increased significantly in the past decade, but that this growth has been primarily in insecure jobs rather than high-quality employment. ECLAC/Women and Development Unit, The challenge of gender equity and human rights on the threshold of the twenty-first century (Santiago, Chile: ECLAC, May 2000), p. 25.
170 Petersen, Maquiladora Revolution, p.45.
171 Human Rights Watch interview, Marco Antonio Rosales, director, Guatemalan Nontraditional Products Exporters Association (Asociación Gremial de Exportadores de Productos No Tradicionales) (AGEXPRONT), Guatemala City, June 21, 2000.
172 UNDP, La fuerza incluyente (The inclusive force), p.54. The UNDP calculated this figure using data from the governmental Encuesta Nacional de Ingresos y Gastos Familiares 1998-1999 (National Survey of Family Income and Expenditures 1998-1999). The total economically active population in Guatemala for that time period was 4, 207, 946. Two percent of this figure is 84,159.
173 International Labor Organization (ILO). The Employment and Conditions of Domestic Workers in Private Households, (Geneva: ILO, March 1970), D.11 1970, mimeograph; Sean Loughna and Gema Vicente, Population issues and the situation of women in post-conflict Guatemala (Geneva: ILO, 1997), p. 34. The much higher estimate for the number of domestic workers may reflect the fact that the government does not have a system in place for registering these workers and therefore the actual number of people performing these jobs may be much higher than estimated in the governmental survey and by the UNDP.
174 For a more in-depth discussion, see Tanya Lovell Banks, "Toward a Global Critical Feminist Vision: Domestic Work and the Nanny Tax Debate," 3.J. Gender Race & Just. 1, (Fall 1999), p. 4.
175 UNDP, La fuerza incluyente (The inclusive force), p.55. UNDP calculation based on government statistics.
176 Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Imelda Hernández, director, CENTRACAP, Guatemala City, November 3, 2000.
177 Amanda Pop Bol, "Racismo y Machismo: Deshilando la opresión," ("Racism and Machismo: Unraveling Oppression") in Morna Macleod and M. Luisa Cabrera Pérez-Armiñan, eds., Identidad: Rostros sin Máscara. Reflexiones sobre Cosmovisión, Género y Etnicidad (Identity: Faces without Masks. Reflections on Cosmovision, Gender and Ethnicity) (Guatemala City: Editorial Maya Nojib'sa, 2000), p.129.
178 "Domestic Workers Build Self-respect in Sunday Workshops," CERIGUA Weekly Briefs #28, July 20, 1998.
179 A survey of fifty-seven national centers and 160 trade unions conducted by the ILO found that few prioritize organizing atypical workers. The main problems these unions cited were: legal barriers, threat of reprisals by hostile employers, lack of awareness of atypical workers of the benefits of unionization, resistance from `core' union members, and the cost of member drives. ILO/Gender Promotion, "The Role of Trade Unions in Promoting Gender Equality and Protecting Vulnerable Women Workers. First Report of the ILO-ICFTU Survey," http://www.ilo.org/public/english/employment/gems/workers/index.htm (September 26, 2000).
180 Two other organizations, Casa San José and Casa María, also belonged to the coalition when it was first established in 1998.
181 Four pieces of legislation governed the operation of maquilas in Guatemala before the current regime was established in 1989: Decree 443 (1966), Decree 30-79 (1979), Decree 80-82 (1982), and Decree 24-84 (1984).
182 For a detailed discussion, see Petersen, Maquiladora Revolution. This arrangement makes monitoring extremely difficult.
183 According to the Ministry of Economy, in 2000 there were eleven free trade zones registered under Decree 65-89, with a total of fifty-five maquilas. Human Rights Watch interview, Nora González M., director, Department of Industrial Policy, Ministry of Economy, Guatemala City, June 21, 2000. The vast majority of maquilas, therefore, operate outside these zones. Human Rights Watch researchers met with workers in maquilas registered under Decree 29-89.
184 AGEXPRONT/VESTEX mimeograph, given to Human Rights Watch on June 21, 2000.
185 Directorio de Empresas Calificadas bajo el Decreto 29-89 (Directory of Qualifying Businesses under Decree 29-89), Department of Industrial Policy, Ministry of Economy mimeograph, June 21, 2000.
186 Human Rights Watch interview, Nora González M., director, Department of Industrial Policy, Ministry of Economy, Guatemala City, June 21, 2000. One of the factories mentioned in this report, Ventas Unidas, S.A., produces Pierre Cardin for the local market only; it does not export Pierre Cardin clothing to the United States or anywhere else.
187 AGEXPRONT/VESTEX mimeograph, given to Human Rights Watch on June 21, 2000. The influx of South Korean capital in the early to mid-1980s was decisive in the development of the sector. According to Petersen, a combination of domestic labor unrest, increased foreign competition, and U.S. import quotas on Korean-manufactured apparel in mid-1980s spurred South Korean capital to seek investment opportunities abroad. Guatemala was a good choice because the two countries had good diplomatic relations and the apparel industry was underdeveloped (Petersen, Maquiladora Revolution, pp. 143-145). Although labor rights violations have been documented throughout the industry, many Guatemalans believe that South Koreans commit the worst abuses. A researcher into the early years of the maquila boom noted that the presence of Korean factories had already "set off a wave of racist sentiment among both Guatemalan workers and business leaders." (Petersen, Maquiladora Revolution, p.8). In the year 2000, when Human Rights Watch conducted its research, this sentiment remained widespread not only among workers, but also government officials, labor rights activists, and women's rights activists. South Koreans are stereotyped as ignorant and disrespectful of Guatemalan culture, cruel and verbally abusive, and the conditions in South Korean maquilas are perceived to be more dehumanizing than in factories operated by other nationalities.
188 See Human Rights Watch, Corporations and Human Rights: Freedom of Association in a Maquila in Guatemala, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1997).
189 Petersen, Maquiladora Revolution, pp.20-36.
190 Ibid., p.26
191 Communication (email) from Thomas Kellermann, Guatemala desk officer, USAID, received as attachment March 12, 2001.
192 United States Census Bureau/Foreign Trade Division, "FT900 - U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services," http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www (March 5, 2001).
193 Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Press Release: "USTR Announces AGOA/CBI Country Designations." October 2, 2000. There are twenty-three other Latin American and Caribbean countries designated under the CBTPA.
194 Trade and Development Act of 2000 (H.R. 434), Title II, Subtitle B, Sec.211.
195 Luis Enrique González Pérez, "Incluyen a Guatemala en beneficios de la ICC" (Guatemala is included in CBI benefits"), Siglo Veintiuno, October 3, 2000.
196 General System of Preferences Renewal Act, Pub. L. No. 98-573, Section 502(a)(4), Stat.3018 (1984). The GSP is a worldwide trade act; Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, amended by Customs and Trade Act of 1990, 19 U.S.C, Sections 2701-2706 (West. Supp.1991).
197 For an in-depth discussion, see Karen F. Travis, "Women in Global Production and Worker Rights Provisions in U.S. Trade Laws," Yale Journal of International Law 17 (Winter, 1992): 173-194.
198 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The other core principles are freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor, and the effective abolition of child labor.
199 Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Lance Compa, Ithaca, New York, October 11, 2000.
200 "Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act: Customs Procedure Designation," Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Press Release, October 5, 2000.
202 USTR press release, "USTR Announces," October 2, 2000.
203 "USTR Concludes Review of Guatemala's Labor Practices and Trade Preferences Under U.S. Law," Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) press release, May 31, 2001.
204 Human Rights Watch interview, H.J. Rosenbaum, assistant U.S. trade representative, Washington, D.C., November 28, 2000.
205 The absence of a nondiscrimination condition also means that there is no leverage to examine discrimination based on race, religion, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
206 Agreement on Social and Economic Aspects and Agrarian Reform (Social and Economic Agreement), signed May 6, 1996, Article 13(h).
207 Ibid., Article 13(e) and (e)(ii).
208 Ibid., Article 13(e)(iv).
209 Agreement on Identity and Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Indigenous Rights Agreement), signed March 31, 1995, preamble.
210 Ibid., Section II, B, 1(c).
211 Ibid., Section II, B, 1(a).
212 Governmental Accord No. 200-2000, Guatemala, May 17, 2000.
213 Indigenous Rights Agreement, Section II, B, 1 (b).