MAC: Mines and Communities

Four Mexican Miners' Union members illegally detained

Published by MAC on 2011-02-14
Source: International Metalworkers Federation

Four members of the Mexican Miners' Union were violently and illegally detained on January 26, 2011. Demanding union rights in Mexico, IMF, ICEM, ITF and UNI released campaign posters and pamphlets in support of Global Days of Action on February 14 to 19.

Under specific focus is Grupo Mexico, held responsible for a deadly explosion at its Pasta De Conchos operations in 2006 (and which featured on MAC at the time).


Four Mexican Miners' Union members illegally detained

By Anita Gardner

International Metalworkers Federation release

27 January 2011

MEXICO: Four members of the Mexican Miners' Union on strike at Gammon Gold's mine in El Cubo, Guanajuato were violently and illegally detained at 5.30am on January 26, 2011.

Juan Andrés Villa Licea, president of the union's local strike committee, his nephew Juan Diego Villa Licea, and Martín Reina Cruces and Jorge Ramón Monsiváis Ortega were removed from their houses with no clothes or shoes at dawn by the police and are detained at a local jail.

The arrests are in response to false allegations of "plundering" made by the Canadian transnational company of the workers who are on an effective strike protected by law.

"We considered this one more an aggression against the right to the strike, that is a constitutional right in Mexico," stated the Mexican Miners' Union in a statement about the violent arrests and detention released on the same day.

Two days earlier, Manny Armenta, a United Steelworkers (USW) sub-district director in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was arrested while on his way to meet with attorneys for the Mexican Miners' Union. The USW has been supporting the mineworkers who have waged a nearly four-year strike against Grupo Mexico at Cananea in Mexico's northern state of Sonora.

On January 24 a customs officer stopped Armenta's car, which is leased by the union, accusing him of driving a stolen vehicle. Armenta presented documentation to no avail. After searching the vehicle with dogs, the officer attempted to extort a "fine" of 185,000 pesos (about US$15,000). When Armenta refused to pay he was arrested, detained overnight, and released early January 25 after posting a bond of 80,000 pesos (about US$7,750).

In stark contrast, although Mexican courts have issued 20 warrants for Germán Larrea the owner of Grupo Mexico, who again failed to show up in court a week ago, the government has never been able to arrest him.

The International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF), International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and UNI Global Union have called on their affiliates to take action in support of the Mexican Miners' Union and the other independent unions in Mexico this February.

Calling for trade union rights in Mexico, the global days of action are taking place from February 14 to 19, which coincide with the fifth anniversary of the deaths of 65 miners at the Pasta de Conchos mine disaster on February 19, 2006.

In support of these global action days, IMF, ICEM, ITF and UNI have released posters, leaflets and background materials in English, Spanish, French, Russian and Japanese, which are all available on the IMF website at:

This February 14 to 19, trade union organizations around the world are calling on the Mexican government to:

1. Hold employer and government officials accountable for the Pasta de Conchos mine explosion that killed 65 miners on February 19, 2006,
2. Abolish systemic violations of workers' freedom of association, including employer-dominated "protection contracts" and interference in union elections,
3. End the use of force-by the state or private parties-to repress workers' legitimate demands for democratic unions, better wages and working conditions, and good health and safety conditions, and
4. End the campaign of political persecution against the Mexican Miner's Union and the Mexican Electrical Workers' Union.

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