Steelworkers commend Mexican court's vindication of Mexican union leader
Napoleon Gomez Urrutia

PITTSBURGH and TORONTO, July 15 /CNW/ - Today United Steelworkers (USW) International Union President Leo Gerard and USW National Director for Canada Ken Neumann hailed a 9 July 2010 decision, by the Superior Court of Justice of the Federal District of Mexico, dismissing an arrest warrant issued against Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, Secretary-General of the National Union of Mining, Metallurgical, Steel and Allied Workers of Mexico (Los Mineros).

The judgment (736/2010), which spurred the Attorney General of Mexico to remove Gomez's photo and related information from the A-G's Federal District internet page, vindicates Gomez and four Los Mineros collegues: Juan Linares Montufar, Hector Felix Estrella, Gregorio Perez-Romo and Jose Angel Rocha-Perez from illegal conduct in relation to the administration of a trust fund first established in 1988 but not realized until 2004 in a settlement with Grupo Mexico. Mr. Linares remains held as a political prisoner, without bail provisions, in a Mexico City jail since December of 2008, under false charges stemming from the same accusation.

"This recent court decision means that Napoleon Gomez and his Los Mineros colleagues have been, not just for the first time, proven innocent of any wrongdoing in relationship to the handling of a trust fund established after a number of state mines were privatized in the late 1980s," says Gerard. "The Mexican government has repeatedly ignored previous court decisions in this regard and continues to use every device it can to persecute the leadership of an independent and autonomous trade union that stands up for Mexican workers."

Neumann says the important court decision remains virtually unreported in Mexico and outside Mexico.

"The persecution of Los Mineros and Napoleon Gomez is one of the great underreported and inaccurately reported stories of our times," says Neumann. "In Mexico, we believe this is due in great part to the fact that German Larrea, the principal owner of Grupo Mexico - a corporation that has conflicts with Los Mineros at the Pasta de Conchos mine In Coahuila State; Cananea, Sonora: Taxco, Guerrero; and Sombrete, Zacatecas - has major interests and influence in sectors of the private media in Mexico and that Notimex, the state media agency, does not properly report in a balanced way."

"The false accusations of embezzlement of the $55-million trust fund is a 'Big Lie,'" says Gerard. "The Mexican government itself has seized over $20-million of these funds and sits on the money right now. It has also frozen the bank accounts of Los Mineros and union officials in order to debilitate them."

"The Mexican government has also trumped up money laundering charges against Los Mineros which have been dismissed in courts," says Neumann. "In February of this year an appeals court ordered a criminal court in the Federal District to cancel an arrest warrant against Napoleon Gomez."

"Whenever it loses court decisions, the Mexican government concocts new allegations - but based on the same old, worn-out set of lies," says Gerard. "Its actions show it is a government that is abusing its powers, not upholding its laws."

On 6 June 2010, the Mexican government sent in over 3,000 armed federal and provincial police to overrun Los Mineros members at the Grupo Mexico copper mine in Cananea, Sonora state. Union members have been on strike, since July, 2007, principally over the issues of deteriorated health and safety conditions.

The government has acted in concert with Grupo Mexico to bust the strike and has stationed police in and around Cananea to reinforce Grupo Mexico's hiring of replacement contractors.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: For further information: Leo Gerard, 412.562.2400; Ken Neumann, 416.558.2510

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