The Department of State to the Guatemalan Embassy


With reference to the Guatemalan Ambassador’s conversation with Mr. Braden on May 24, 1947,16 on the subject of the new Guatemalan Labor Code,17 the Department of State calls the Embassy’s attention to several provisions of this code which appear to discriminate in practice against American companies.

These provisions are in articles 105, 116, 121, 238 and 243, which make special regulations for companies employing 500 or more agricultural laborers and for companies employing 1,000 or more workers of any sort and operating in more than one department or economic area. Such distinctions would serve to apply to certain American employers restrictions and obligations different from those under which other concerns operate. So far as is known the only concerns with more than 1,000 employees are the United Fruit Company, Compañía Agrícola de Guatemala, and International Railways of [Page 706] Central America, all American enterprises. With one possible exception, the only employers of more than 500 agricultural laborers are the American-owned Compañía Agrícola de Guatemala and United Fruit Company.

The Department of State does not presume to express an opinion upon the merits of the Guatemalan labor code beyond pointing to this apparent discrimination, which is a matter of serious concern to the Department of State. Therefore, the Department would appreciate any action which the Embassy may be able to take with a view to exploring the situation with the Guatemalan Government and eliminating any discriminations against American-owned enterprises.

  1. Memorandum of conversation between Ambassador Garcia Granados and Assistant Secretary of State Braden, not printed.
  2. The Guatemalan Government promulgated a Labor Code by legislative decree No. 330, published in the Diaria de Centro America on February 24 and 26, 1947, which became effective May 1, 1947.