Mexico: bosses end strike, close mine

After an eight-month strike, the Grupo Mexico mining company has started to shut down its San Martin copper, silver and zinc mine in Sombrerete municipality in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas, according to Jesus Jiménez, a delegate in Zacatecas and Jalisco for the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMRM). Jiménez said the company has already terminated 100 of the mine’s 450 workers on a claim that the mining operation was unsustainable. The workers went on strike on July 30, 2007, as part of a strike over safety conditions that included the huge copper mine in Cananea, Sonora, and a mine in Taxco, Guerrero. Grupo Mexico has reportedly lost $120 million in revenues at San Martin since the strike began. (La Jornada, April 18)

Police and soldiers attempted to end the Cananea strike forcibly on Jan. 12; the union responded with an eight-hour national strike on Jan. 16

The SNTMMRM has been organizing protests in Mexico City around safety issues at Grupo Mexico mines and a demand that the company retrieve the bodies of miners killed in a methane explosion in the Pasta de Conchos mine in the northern state of Coahuila on Feb. 19, 2006; only two of the 65 bodies have been recovered. Miners in groups of 10 have stood holding signs from 9 AM to 6 PM each weekday in intersections, plazas and major tourist sites like the Angel de la Independencia statue and the esplanade of the Bellas Artes building. The protests are in rotating shifts, with unionists coming to the capital for one week and then returning home. One of the signs shows a photograph of Grupo Mexico president German Larrea Mota Velasco with the caption: “Through the fault of this murderer my dad isn’t resting in peace and has left us orphans. Where is justice?” The company is suing the union over the sign for the “crime of discrimination”; the SNTMMRM says the company has also organized goons to attack the protesters. (LJ, April 19)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 20

See our last posts on Mexico, the labor struggle and the mineral cartel in Latin America.