Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor


The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Guatemala to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Guatemala's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The U.S. strategy for promoting democracy and human rights focuses on: reforming the security and justice sectors; improving governance, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, including worker rights; fostering the development of professional military and police forces; and targeting assistance to vulnerable communities. This strategy, developed in consultation with civil society and indigenous community leaders, includes crime prevention efforts that expand community-based policing activities, reduces the vulnerability of communities to crime groups, and improves vocational and recreational opportunities for at-risk youth.

To advance its strategic objectives, the United States supports programs that encourage decentralization of government functions and the creation of stronger, more effective local government institutions to increase citizen participation in decision-making. The United States uses diplomatic engagement, public outreach, foreign assistance programs, and related initiatives to advance its objectives.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

U.S. officials regularly meet with local congressional representatives, political party leaders, government officials, and NGO representatives to advance democratic principles, justice reform, the rule of law, and to assist vulnerable communities. U.S. programs provide substantial capacity building assistance to expand the government's 24-hour criminal court system, improve case management and pretrial oral hearings, and strengthen the capacity of the police inspector general unit and office of professional responsibility to combat police corruption. All U.S.-funded military training includes a human rights component, and U.S. officials meet regularly with government and military authorities to encourage cooperation in legal proceedings involving human rights abuses committed during the internal armed conflict. U.S. assistance continues to fund a local forensic anthropology foundation to exhume and identify through DNA, and other analysis techniques, the remains of victims of forced disappearance and other human rights abuses during the country's 1960-1996 internal armed conflict. To combat impunity the United States has committed significant political and financial resources to the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), and works closely with CICIG to ensure fulfillment of its mandate to assist government institutions in law reform, in prosecution, and in dismantling of criminal organizations. The United States is working closely with government officials to encourage the selection of the best-qualified candidate as the new attorney general and on developing new anti-corruption and anti-drug trafficking legislation. In addition, U.S. crime prevention programs focus on at-risk communities. These programs include youth outreach centers, tattoo removal services for former gang members, and vocational and recreational opportunities for residents in marginalized areas.

U.S. officials meet regularly with journalists, human rights defenders, labor leaders, and indigenous activists to support these groups' activities. The U.S. Government has supported numerous exchange programs for print, broadcast, and online journalists to provide training, particularly in new media, and highlights rule of law and freedom of the press. The U.S. Government also undertakes substantial outreach and assistance promoting social inclusion and political participation of the country's large indigenous population, while raising awareness for indigenous rights. U.S. programs have provided journalism training for over 70 indigenous reporters, editors, and news directors from rural communities in the highlands and eastern departments of the country.

The United States continues to engage the government to advocate for the effective enforcement of labor laws and to provide substantial support for promoting the protection of labor rights and combating trafficking in persons. Working closely with local NGOs, U.S. officials monitor U.S.-funded labor capacity building projects, and collaborate with the Ministry of Labor, the private sector, and worker organizations to strengthen institutional capacity, raise awareness of labor rights, and cultivate a culture of compliance with labor laws. U.S. officials continue to express concern regarding reports that violations of labor rights continue with impunity. U.S. officials regularly encourage the investigation of killings of threats made against trade unionists and human rights activists and urge the government to provide protection for threatened members of these groups. U.S.-funded assistance also strengthens government and civil society efforts to advocate for legislative reform, improve protective services for trafficking victims, and strengthen investigation and prosecution of traffickers.