Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala Victim of Employment Racism

In a study conducted in November by the Association for Research and Social Studies (ASIES), an NGO, and the Presidential Commission on Discrimination and Racism Against Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala (CODISRA) titled “Racism and racial discrimination in the business sector” highlighted just how serious racism is in the workforce of Guatemala.

In a country who’s overall population of 14 million is close to 40 percent according to official statistics, many of the indigenous people and mestizos (mixed race) are admitted paid less for their services. According to an article in the Guatemala Times 52 percent of business owners interviewed in the study admitted this fact and in sectors like retail the number jumped to 56 percent.

The survey was conducted by telephone and interviewed 550 business owners in the greater Guatemala City, finding 12 percent of workers in small and micro-enterprises are indigenous people, while that number increases to 20 percent for medium and large businesses.

“The survey did not collect information about the working conditions endured by indigenous people, which are often inhumane. During the coffee or sugarcane harvests, for example, the workers live in rough shacks or sheds and sleep all packed together on the floor,” said Higinio Pu, an activist with the Native group Waxaquib Noj, which means wisdom in the Maya Quiche language in the Inter Press Service.

Pu did agree with the survey findings but felt more could be done.

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