Central America

Central America

The Legal History of Central American Republics

This section provides an overview of Central American Republics

The Legal History of South and Central America

This general section provides an overview of South and Central America and its historical context.

South and Central America Historical Overview

See the main entry of this legal history topic.

Pre-Colonial Laws

See the main entry of this legal history topic.

Spanish Colonial Law

See the main entry of this legal history topic.

Portuguese Colonial Law

See the main entry of this legal history topic.

Other Colonial Laws

See the main entry of this legal history topic.

Dominican Republic-central America-united States Free Trade Agreement (“cafta-dr”) in 2013

United States views on international law [1] in relation to Dominican Republic-central America-united States Free Trade Agreement (“cafta-dr”): In the first labor case brought by the United States under a trade agreement, the United States and Guatemala reached an agreement to suspend their dispute on April 11, 2013. In 2010, the United States had requested consultations with Guatemala under article 16.6.1 of the CAFTA-DR regarding apparent violations of Guatemala’s obligations on labor rights. See this world legal encyclopedia (in relation to issues that took place in the year 2010) at 492-94. After consultations in 2010 and a meeting of the CAFTA-DR Free Trade Commission in 2011 failed to resolve the dispute, the United States filed its request for arbitration on August 9, 2011. See this world legal encyclopedia (in relation to issues that took place in the year 2011) at 384.

The suspension agreed in 2013 is intended to permit Guatemala to implement an 18-point Enforcement Plan negotiated by the parties. An April 30, 2013 USTR blog post summarizes the Enforcement Plan as follows:

It includes concrete actions with specific time frames that Guatemala will implement within six months to improve labor law enforcement. Under the Enforcement Plan, Guatemala has committed to strengthen labor inspections, expedite and streamline the process of sanctioning employers and ordering remediation of labor violations, increase labor law compliance by exporting companies, improve the monitoring and enforcement of labor court orders, publish labor law enforcement information, and establish mechanisms to ensure that workers are paid what they are owed when factories close.

Some Aspects of Dominican Republic-central America-united States Free Trade Agreement (“cafta-dr”)

More information about the dispute and terms of the agreement is available at (link resource) ustr.gov/trade-topics/labor/bilateral-and-regional-trade-agreements/guatemalasubmission-under-cafta-dr. USTR issued a fact sheet, excerpted below and available at (link resource) ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/fact-sheets/2013/april/guatemala-laborenforcement, in which it lists key actions contained in the Enforcement Plan.



Sanctioning Employers and Ordering Remediation: Guatemala will pursue legislation to establish an expedited process for labor courts to adopt fines recommended by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection for labor law violations, and to order employers to remediate such violations. The legislation, when enacted, will reduce the time allowed for the Labor Ministry to transfer cases to the courts from six months to five days, and will require the courts to adopt and impose the Labor Ministry’s fine recommendation, unless unreasonable.

Additional Resources for Inspections: Guatemala, on an ongoing basis, will provide the resources necessary for the Labor Ministry’s effective enforcement of labor laws. In 2012, the Government of Guatemala provided additional resources to the Labor Ministry, including hiring 100 new inspectors and five additional attorneys, and acquiring 20 new vehicles for labor inspectors to conduct inspections throughout Guatemala.

Ensuring Access to Worksites for Labor Inspectors: Guatemala will issue an agreement between the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Interior ensuring police assistance to facilitate labor inspector access to worksites.



Early Warning System: Guatemala will provide relevant agencies with direct access to each other’s databases so that they may immediately share new information related to a company’s operating status or indicators of impending company closure.

Rapid Response Team to Prevent Factory Closures: Guatemala has established a Rapid Response Team comprised of the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Interior, the Tax Authority, the Social Security Institute, and the Judiciary to oversee export companies that receive special tax benefits. The Rapid Response Team will verify the imminent closure of a company and work with the employer to attempt to prevent closure and ensure payments owed to workers if the closure cannot be prevented.

Ensuring Workers Get Paid: Guatemala will issue a Ministerial Accord requiring the Labor Ministry to proactively intervene upon receiving information or indicators of a potential closure and take the necessary steps to obtain the payments owed to workers if that company closes, including by petitioning the relevant labor court to embargo or seize assets. This applies to all sectors.



Verifying Employer Compliance: Through the newly created “Verification Unit” within the Judiciary, Guatemala will verify timely compliance by employers with labor court orders. The Verification Unit will place particular emphasis on court orders to reinstate illegally fired workers.

Ensuring Criminal Prosecution for Employers who Fail to Comply: Guatemala will train labor court judges and other court personnel and develop the legal procedures necessary to help ensure effective criminal prosecution of employers who fail to comply with labor court orders related to the protection of workers’ rights of association, right to organize, and right to bargain collectively.

Monitoring Enforcement of Labor Court Orders: Guatemala will conduct a systematic review of all labor courts and will apply disciplinary procedures to judges who fail to take measures required by law to enforce court orders.



Monitoring Export Companies: The Labor Ministry will conduct annual inspections of all companies that receive tax and tariff benefits under special provisions of Guatemalan law (Decree 29-89) to confirm compliance with labor laws and reject new applications for benefits received from labor law violators.

Revoking Tax Benefits: Guatemala will issue a Government Accord requiring that the Ministry of Economy revoke tax and tariff benefits within five days of receiving notice from a labor court that an employer violated a labor law and failed to comply with the labor court’s resolution.

Ensuring Worker Payments: With the help of an international institution, Guatemala will work to develop a contingency mechanism based on the extent of potential need to ensure payments owed to workers when Decree 29-89 companies close.

Literature Review on Central America: Crime, Corruption, and the Police

In the Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy, [1] Mary Fran Malone and Christine Malone-Rowe provide the following summary about the topic of Central America: Crime, Corruption, and the Police: This entry examines the overlapping problems of crime and police corruption in Central America. We provide a historical overview of the trends in crime and police reform, and assess the problem of corruption at the highest levels of police administration, as well as at the lower levels of daily police–citizen interaction. The Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras face severe problems in terms of crime and police corruption; however, Nicaragua and Panama have had some successes in raising the levels of professionalism of their police forces. While Costa Rica is the region’s strongest democracy, it still faces challenges due to the current regional security crisis, and these challenges have weakened the police forces and lead citizens to register less support for the police.


See Also

  • International Organization
  • Foreign Relations
  • Intergovernmental Organization
  • Regional Organization
  • Regional Integration


Notes and References

  1. Entry about Central America: Crime, Corruption, and the Police in the Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy (2015, Routledge, Oxford, United Kingdom)

See Also

Further Reading

  • Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance (2018, Springer International Publishing, Germany)



  1. Dominican Republic-central America-united States Free Trade Agreement (“cafta-dr”) in the Digest of United States Practice in International Law


See Also

    • Historical Laws
    • Latin America
    • EU-Central America Political Dialogue and Co-operation Agreement
    • Colonial Law
    • Slavery

Further Reading

Hierarchical Display of Central America

Geography > America > Latin America

Central America

Concept of Central America

See the dictionary definition of Central America.

Characteristics of Central America

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Translation of Central America

Thesaurus of Central America

Geography > America > Latin America > Central America

See also