Steelworkers Salute Victory for Mexican Hero Napoleón Gómez

Mexican Appeals Court Cancels Charges Against Gómez

TORONTO – The United Steelworkers (USW) praised a Mexican appeals court decision that definitively quashes criminal charges against Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, President and General Secretary of the National Mine and Metal Workers Union, Los Mineros.

"What fitting news for Labour Day weekend," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director. "Napoleon has been such an inspiration for us, and we've been proud to stand side by side with him through eight long years of fighting these false charges. Now he's finally victorious."

In a unanimous decision issued in open court on Aug. 28, the Fourth Collegiate Tribunal for Criminal Matters of the First Circuit in the Federal District ruled that the government's criminal charge against Gómez, based on the dissolution of a union trust fund in 2005, was baseless and unconstitutional. 

This is the eleventh time that the Mexican government charged Gómez with the same offence and the eleventh time that the appellate courts have ruled in his favor.

"This is a triumph for the USW-Mineros alliance and for the international trade union solidarity campaign spearheaded by Workers Uniting and the IndustriALL Global Union," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. Since 2005, the USW and Los Mineros have constructed a North American solidarity alliance based on joint bargaining, organizing and political action.

"This court decision should finally end the political persecution of Napoleón Gómez," Gerard said. "Since 2005 Gómez and Los Mineros have been attacked by the Mexican government and giant mining companies like Grupo Mexico.

"Congratulations, Napoleon, on behalf of USW District 3. Solidarity does work!" said USW Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt. "This victory would not have been possible without the USW and the support of the labour movement around the world."

Due to the accusations, Gómez has lived in Canada since 2006. He was granted Canadian citizenship in June of this year.

Los Mineros has been targeted for winning the highest wage increases of any workers in Mexico and for organizing thousands of new members in a democratic labour organization, as well as denouncing corruption and industrial homicide in the mining industry.

"Now it is time for justice. Mexico must immediately tell Interpol to withdraw its Red Notice so that Gómez can travel freely outside of Canada," said Gerard. "In addition, Grupo Mexico and the other Mexican mining interests must sit down with Los Mineros to negotiate an end to the existing labour conflicts. Canadian mining companies such as Excellon that have flouted the rights of Mexican workers and landowners should also come to the table."

The ruling of the Fourth Collegiate Tribunal, like the 10 previous appellate court decisions, found that the dissolution of the trust - established for the benefit of the union - was lawful. The Mexican Attorney General's office announced that it would respect the decision, which cannot be appealed.

"The persecution of Napoleón Gómez is a case study in impunity," Gerard said. "The United States and Canada should not even think of expanding Mexico's trade benefits under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or any other trade agreement, until it is clear that Mexico is going to respect its own law and deal fairly with Los Mineros."

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For more information:
Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Brad West, USW Communications, 604-754-1174, bwest@usw.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, bgallagher@usw.ca

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