On Dec. 12 a judge in Mexico’s Coahuila state ordered the release of Carlos Pavón Campos, political affairs secretary of the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMRM), on 5.611 million pesos bail (about $426,600). Pavón Campos had been held for eight days; he was arrested Dec. 4 on charges of defrauding union members. On Dec. 15, it was reported that another SNTMMRM leader, Vigilance and Justice Council president Juan Linares Montufar, had been denied bail on charges in a similar case. The union’s general secretary, leader Napoleon Gómez Urrutia, is also charged; he fled to Vancouver in 2006 but continues to direct the union. The original charges reportedly included officials of the Scotiabank, but no action seems to have been taken against them. (La Jornada, Dec. 13, 15)
SNTMMRM leaders see the charges as an effort to break the union. “The weight of the government, which has me and Juan Linares Montufar…in jail, is the weight of the money of the owners of Grupo Mexico and Altos Hornos [mining and metal companies], who are willing to pay whatever is necessary to get rid of the union,” Pavón Campos told the media before his release. Along with a number of Mexican unions, the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF), the United Steel Workers (USW) and the Brazilian Metal Workers union (CNM/CUT) are supporting the SNTMMRM. (Mexican Labor News and Analysis, December 2008)
The US-based Campaign for Labor Rights (CLR) is calling for letters to the following officials demanding Linares Montufar’s release and an end to government interference in the union:
Mexican president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa: Felipe.email@example.com
Labor Secretary Fernándo Gómez Mont: fax +525 55 546 5350
Send copies to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
(CLR labor action alert, Dec. 20)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 21