(en) MEXICAN LABOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS

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MEXICAN LABOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS April 16, 1997 Vol. II, No. 8 About Mexican Labor News and Analysis Mexican Labor News and Analysis is produced in collaboration with the Authentic Labor Front (Frente Autentico del Trabajo - FAT) of Mexico and with the United Electrical Workers (UE) of the United States and is published the 2nd and 16th of every month. MLNA can be viewed at the UE's international web site: HTTP://www.igc.apc.org/unitedelect/. For information about direct subscription, submission of articles, and all queries contact editor Dan La Botz at the following e-mail address: 103144.2651@compuserve.com or call (525) 661-33-97 in Mexico City. MLNA articles may be reprinted by other electronic or print media, but we ask that you credit Mexican Labor News and Analysis and give the UE home page location and Dan La Botz's compuserve address. The UE Home Page which displays Mexican Labor News and Analysis has an INDEX of back issues and an URGENT ACTION ALERT section. ----------------------------------------------------------------- IN THIS ISSUE: *Peasants March on Anniversary of Zapata's Murder *Heberto Castillo, Leading Leftist, Dies *Oaxaca Teachers March to Mexico City *Ford Workers Strike Hermosillo Plant *Fidel Failing, Rodriguez Alcaine Taking Over *CT Calls for Continental Labor Alliance to Defend Migrant Workers *Telephone Workers Settle for 19 Percent *Second Woman Attorney Beaten at Labor Board *Mexican NGOs Seek U.S. Supporters to Resist U.S. Immigration Law. *Labor Book Notes: Global Exchange English- language pamphlet on Mexican teachers *Sorry, No Social Statistics this issue ----------------------------------------------------------------- THOUSANDS OF PEASANTS DEMONSTRATE TO COMMEMORATE 78TH ANNIVERSARY OF ASSASSINATION OF ZAPATA Tens of thousands of peasants marched in unofficial demonstrations in cities throughout Mexico on April 10 to commemorate Emiliano Zapata, the revolutionary peasant leader of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, on the 78th anniversary of his assassination. Peasant organizations called for a change in the government's agrarian policy, repudiated the North American Free Trade Agreement, and opposed the coming visit to Mexico by U.S. President Bill Clinton. In towns and cities Indians and peasants paraded, chanting: "If Zapata were alive, he would be on our side," and "Zapata lives, the struggle goes on." The demonstrations--organized by a score of peasant unions-- involved marches, protest demonstrations, and sit-ins in Chiapas, the Federal District, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Morelos, Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi, Tabasco. April 10 is a traditional date for such demonstrations, though this year the demonstrations were perhaps more militant and confrontational than usual. Hunger and even starvation conditions in some areas of the Mexican countryside have led peasants over the last five years to join guerrilla uprisings in Chiapas and Oaxaca, to stop railroad trains and rob the cargo of grain, and to engaged in countless protest demonstrations over the last year. At the same time the militarization of several states, and the kidnapping and murder of peasant activists have increased peasant anger. In Mexico City, site of one of the largest protests, some 7,000 peasants marched through the city. Among their demands were demilitarization of half a dozen Mexican state and the Constitutional adoption of indigenous rights and culture as proposed in the negotiations between the Mexican government and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. They also demanded freedom for some 4,500 Indians and peasants reportedly held as prisoners in jails throughout the country. The demonstration in Mexico City involved two violent altercations: on in front of the Mexican Ministry of the Interior (Gobernacion), and the other at the U.S. Embassy. At the Ministry of the Interior police refused to let the peasant march pass, leading to a fight between cops and campesinos. Some peasant activists launched rocks over the police and barricade toward the fortress-like U.S. Embassy. Hostility toward the U.S. has grown over the last year over the Helms-Burton Law, the U.S. certification of the Mexican anti-drug campaign, and the new U.S. immigration law. ### HEBERTO CASTILLO DIES; MEXICO MOURNS LEFTIST LEADER Heberto Castillo, one of the major figures in the Mexican left, died of a heart attack on Sunday, April 6 at one a.m. in Mexico City. Castillo was a founder and leader of the Mexican Workers Party (PMT) in 1977, was nominated presidential candidate of the Mexican Socialist Party (PSM) in 1988, and died a Senator of Party of the Mexican Revolution (PRD). Castillo was born in Ixhuatlan de Madero, Veracruz on August 23, 1928. In 1947 he entered the Engineering School of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and in 1951 became a political activist. He once said that while working as a civil engineer on a bridge he saw peasants carrying stone on their backs, and it reminded him of the slaves of ancient Egypt. After that realization, he could not continue as before, and he became a radical nationalist and leftist. Wanting to do something to change Mexican society, Castillo contacted former President Lazaro Cardenas and became a close co- worker of his. When Cardenas came out of retirement in 1959 to organize the National Liberation Movement (MLN) to both defend the Cuban Revolution and try to push the Mexican government to the left, Heberto Castillo served as Cardenas's personal secretary. During the 1960s, Castillo worked to support various union groups, such as railroad workers and doctors. In 1968 when the Mexican student movement erupted, Castillo was the professor's representative to the movement. That year the Mexican Army murdered an estimated 300 students demonstrating at Tlatelolco, the Plaza of the Three Cultures. Castillo was arrested in 1968, and spent two and a half years in prison, being freed in 1971. In 1976 when the newspaper EXCELSIOR fired editor Julio Scherer, Castillo joined Scherer in creating the national political magazine PROCESO. Castillo was a columnist for the left-of-center magazine. Castillo founded the Mexican Workers Party (PTM), a leftist, nationalist party, in 1977 in an attempt to draw various radical groups currents together and revitalize the Mexican left. For a decade Castillo was the PMT's principal leader and most important public figure, as both writer and speaker. (The Mexican Workers Party, PMT, should not be confused with the existing Workers Party, PT, which is a puppet of the PRI.) The Mexican Workers Party merged in 1987 with the Unified Socialist Party of Mexico (PSUM - the former Communist Party), to form the Mexican Socialist Party (PMS). The party chose Heberto Castillo as its presidential nominee in 1988, but he stepped down in favor of Cuauhtemoc Cardenas. In 1989 the Mexican Socialist Party dissolved to become part of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Castillo served as Senator for the PRD, and since 1994, Castillo has spent much of his time attempting to negotiate a peace settlement between the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and the Mexican government. He had also been part of a campaign to stop the privatization of the Mexican Petroleum Company (PEMEX). In addition to his political activities, Castillo also had a brilliant career as an engineer, developing the system of triangular supports (tridilosa) used in the construction of bridges and buildings. President Ernesto Zedillo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) stood guard at Castillo's casket, Carlos Castillo Peraza, leader of the conservative National Action Party kneeled and prayed, and Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, leaders of the Party of the Democratic Revolution said good-bye to their comrade. A commemorative ceremony for Castillo held on April 12 in the National Palace of the Fine Arts (Bellas Artes) was attended by several thousand people. ### THREE THOUSAND OAXACA TEACHERS MARCH TOWARD MEXICO CITY Some 3,000 Oaxaca teachers, members of Local 22 of the Mexican Teachers Union (el SNTE), are marching toward Mexico city to demand higher wages and improvements in benefits. They are also calling for the demilitarization of the state and an end to the repression in the Loxichas region. Rafael Rodriguez, head of local 22, said the demonstrators plan to arrive in Mexico City for the May 1 Labor Day march. To do so the teachers will march 25 to 30 kilometers per day over the mountains from the south of Mexico. Also participating in the march are members of the Worker Peasant Student Coalition of the Isthmus [of Tehuantepec] (COCEI) who are coming from Juchitan. ` ### FORD WORKERS STRIKE HERMOSILLO PLANT The workers at the Ford plant in Hermosillo, Sonora struck early in the morning of April 14 demanding to be paid their profit shares and a productivity bonus. Following a general assembly, the workers agreed to strike the first shift, and then extended the strike to the second shift. The workers also called for a national movement to united the Ford workers in Sonora, Chihuahua, and in Cuautitlan, State of Mexico. Mexico has no national automobile workers union. Local Ford management said it could not deal with the workers demands and referred the matter to Ford headquarters in Mexico City. ### FIDEL VELAZQUEZ'S HEALTH FAILING; LEONARDO RODRIGUEZ ALCAINE SUBSTITUTES Fidel Velazquez, general secretary of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) who will be 97 years old on April 24, appears to be failing fast. His family announced that he will not hold a public celebration of his birthday with the CTM leadership as planned, but will gather instead with his family members. Velazquez had been the head of the CTM for 50 years. Meanwhile Leonardo Rodriguez Alcaine, one of the five CTM leaders who could possibly replace Velazquez in the event he either stepped down or died, is now the acting or substitute general secretary. At the regular Monday press conference which Velazquez had held for decades, Rodriguez Alcaine announced that he is mobilizing the CTM to support the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and said that the federation will ask for a special emergency wage increase on May 1. In Mexico most wages are governed by state-employer-union wage pacts which have been in effect almost continuously since 1945. The government, employers, and the unions enforce the wage ceiling, keeping wages down. Periodically, however, often as in the case when elections approach, the unions ask for emergency wage increase. Thus Rodriguez Alcaine continues the policies of his predecessor. ### CONGRESS OF LABOR CALLS FOR CONTINENTAL LABOR ALLIANCE TO DEFEND MIGRANT WORKERS The Congress of Labor (CT) has called for a continental labor alliance to defend migrant workers. The CT's proposed alliance comes as a response to the new U.S. immigration law which has been rejected by many sectors of Mexican society form the Roman Catholic Church to the "official" labor unions. The leadership of the Congress of Labor, in a document made available on April 14 calls for an alliance that would include the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the Canadian labor federations, and Central American union organizations, as well as international groups such as the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). The CT said it would base its campaign to protect migrant workers on the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights. ### TELEPHONE WORKERS UNION SETTLES FOR 19 PERCENT The Mexican Telephone Workers Union (STRM) representatives voted on April 8 to accept the 19 percent wage increase offered by TELMEX, the Mexican Telephone Company. In addition to the 19 percent wage increase, there was also a 4 percent increase in benefits. 500 delegates voted by a 7 to three margin to accept the company's offer, thereby avoiding a strike. Francisco Hernandez Juarez, head of the union, had announced that the union would strike if it did not receive a 47 percent wage increase, though in other announcements he also said that the union had to have more than 23 percent. Most of the larger unions have been winning increases of about 23 percent. Wage increases have averaged 19.5 percent so far this year. In addition to leading the telephone workers, Hernandez Juarez is the most important figure both in the Federation of Unions of Goods and Services (FESEBES) and in the Foro group of unions. For several years Hernandez Juarez has been the foremost advocate of a modernization of Mexican unions, including close cooperation with management and flexibility. More recently he has been a spokesman for democratic reform in the Congress of Labor, the umbrella organization which brings together most of Mexico's "official" unions. Hernandez Juarez has proven unable to break the government's wage ceiling, though the reform movement he leads has never made struggle for higher wages its banner. ### Second Woman Attorney Beaten at Labor Board By "Official" Union Goons--ANAD Demands a Stop Aurea Susana Codina Barrios, an attorney for the Revolutionary Workers Confederation (COR), was attacked and beaten by "official" union goons at the entrance to the Mexican Labor Board (JFCA) in Mexico City on April 2. This is not the first such attack on a woman attorney associated with the independent or democratic unions. Last year another group of thugs attacked Maria del Carmen Fernandez Alonso at the Mexican Labor Board. Under pressure from the COR, the National Association of Democratic Attorneys, and other organizations, Alfredo Farid Barquet, the president of the Labor Board (JFCA) condemned the violent acts and said that the would take measures to protect the security of the attorneys and others. Estela Rios, Jesus Campos Linas and other ANAD leaders demanded that Farid Barquet find and prosecute those who carried out the attacks. Attorney Susana Codina has also taken her complaints to Mexican Secretary of Labor Javier Bonilla Garcia. Scores of prominent union leaders and activists, attorneys, feminists and others signed letters sent to the Labor Board, the Secretary of Labor, and to Mexico City Newspapers to protest the attack on Susana Codina. Such hooliganism is virtually an institution in Mexican labor relations. The gangsters who do this work, both men and women, some of them former professional prizefighters, have over the years attacked union leaders, employers, attorneys, and rank and file workers. Some thugs such as Wallace de la Mancha became famous as musclemen or gunmen for the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) of other unions. The "official" union goons are part and parcel of the system which includes "protection contracts" and "ghost unions." But such violence is not limited to labor relations. Other attorneys who have defended members of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) or the People's Revolutionary Army (EPR), such as Pilar Noriega, have received death threats. ### Mexican NGOs Seek U.S. Supporters To Resist U.S. Immigration Law A network of the leading Mexican human rights organizations and attorneys is looking for U.S. collaborators to attempt to organize an international legal campaign to resist the new U.S. immigration law. The legal campaign would be accompanied by mobilization in support of immigrant rights. Among the groups and individuals involved in organizing this campaign are: The Mexican Academy of Human Rights (AMDH); National Association of Democratic Attorneys, the Mexican Committee for the Development and Promotion of Human Rights (CMDPDH), Emilio Krieger, Father Concha, and Mariclair Acosta. If you work with a labor union or non-governmental organization, human rights group, Mexico-support group, lawyers' organization and would like to work on this campaign, please reply to Mexican Labor News and Analysis. Send: a) The name, e-mail address, phone number and address of a contact person. b) A brief description your organization and its work. c) Indicate ways in which you might be able to help: 1) Legal work. 2) Organizational work for solidarity. 3) Other. Mexican Labor News and Analysis will pass this information along to the organizers of this campaign who will then get in touch with you. Do not expect an answer to your letter before May 8, 1997. ### Mexico Between Political Democracy and Militarization by Dan La Botz Mexico seems to be heading at the moment in two completely different directions: toward political democracy and toward militarization. On the one hand, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is in a deep crisis, and the political opposition has won some impressive electoral victories in recent months. But, on the other hand, the military continues to take control of civilian police departments in cities and states throughout the country, and military occupations continue in several southern states, accompanied by a low intensity warfare against the guerrillas and the civilian population. The electoral victories of the opposition and the Army's ubiquitous presence represent two sides of the same phenomenon: the inability of the Institutional Revolutionary Party to control the state-party machine as it once did. Militarization The militarization has grown gradually over the last three years, ever since the Chiapas Rebellion of January 1, 1994. In response to the uprising led by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, the Mexican government moved tens of thousands of troops into the southern most state of Chiapas. Similarly when Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the Party of the Democratic Revolution led a great social movement in 1995 and 1996 to protest against PEMEX and the Mexican government, Mexican Army troops were also moved into the state of Tabasco. The appearance of the People's Revolutionary Army in June of 1996, meant that more Mexican Army troops were sent into the state of Guerrero and Oaxaca. The Mexican Army has a strong presence in other states as well, such as Hidalgo. In other states, a big military presence is justified because of struggles between local drug lords. Low Intensity Warfare Militarization has been accompanied by low intensity warfare against the guerrilla groups and against the civilian populations which support them. The Army moves in supposedly to keep order, but always accompanied beatings, kidnappings, rapes, disappearances and murder. The Mexican Army is no doubt responsible for some of the human rights violations, but others can be credited to the local police, PRI organizations, and guardias blancas (white guards). In the shadow of the army, rural landlords and political bosses send their gun-thugs to take revenge on those who dared to demand their rights. The victims of such activities tend to be local political dissidents, particularly local leaders of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), school teachers who often serve as the spokespersons for local social movements, and peasants leaders who organize the rural folk to fight for their land. Everyday in the newspapers one reads stories of murders, kidnappings, and beatings of social activists in the countryside. Political Democracy At the same time, there seems to be a very real changes in the area of political democracy or electoral politics. The political opposition appears to be creating organizations which can defeat the PRI in elections, and the parties and civil society appear to be creating networks of election observers who can help protect those ballot box victories. Making it all possible is the crisis of the PRI. The Institutional Revolutionary Party has been in a crisis since the Chiapas Rebellion of January 1994, followed by the December 1994 collapse of the peso and the stock market, and Mexico's greatest depression and political crisis since 1928 if not 1910. The scandals surrounding Raul Salinas who has been charged with the murder of the former leader of the PRI, as well as with stealing hundreds of millions of dollars, continue to widen. At the same time the murder Luis Donaldo Colosio in April of 1994 remains unsolved. The PRI appears as the nodal point of crime and corrupt and seems, finally after 70 years, to be losing its organizational grip. While the PRI has not yet begun to disintegrate as an organization, many local PRI affiliates and apparently thousands of PRI members are deserting the slowly sinking ship, going over to the conservative National Action Party (PAN) or to the center- left Party of the Democratic Revolution, and more, so it seems, to the latter. PRI Suffers Electoral Defeats In the elections last November in the State of Mexico--a state bordering the Federal District, parts of which the Mexico City metropolitan area--the Party of the Democratic Revolution took control of Nezahualcoyotl, while the National Action Party won in Naucalpan. Both of those are large cities, and their capture by the opposition represented an enormous defeat for the PRI. In the elections earlier this year in the State of Morelos, just south of Mexico City, the PRI suffered an electoral disaster as the PRD and the PAN each came to control about one third of the state legislature. Divided between the three major parties, this creates the first really democratic legislature in Mexico in decades. Parliamentary democracy has come to one Mexican state. Cardenas in the Lead Mexico City will soon have its first election for Mayor since the 1920s, and Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, the candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution is leading in the polls. Cardenas, ran for president of Mexico in 1988 and won, though he was denied the victory by the PRI, and again in 1994 when he got only about 16 percent of the vote. But now Cardenas seems to have made a comeback, a new, smiling, personable, and flexible candidate who attempts to please not only his radical peasant base, his leftist supporters, and his old-style political machine, but also business groups. Mexico at the moment seems pulled apart between these two forces, a movement for political democracy on the one hand, and a tendency toward militarization on the other. Meanwhile the labor movement remains virtually absent from the scene as a social or political force. ### LABOR BOOK NOTES David Monroy, Mexican Teachers and the Struggle for Democracy (San Francisco: Global Exchange, 1997) Pamphlet, photographs, 13 pages. Global Exchange, the non-governmental organization which is a leader in promoting international solidarity and in supporting struggles for democracy in Mexico, has produced an excellent short pamphlet on Mexican teachers, their struggle for democracy and the Mexican government's current campaign of repression against them. Author David Monroy combines history, political analysis, and journalism in this wonderfully written booklet will be of use of interest to labor unionists and human rights activists. Teachers unions in Canada and the United States should buy quantities of this pamphlet to distribute among their officers, stewards, and active members, and other unions might do so as well. This pamphlet makes an excellent companion to Maria Lorena Cook's book Organizing Dissent: Unions, the State, and the Democratic Teachers' Movement in Mexico, and could be recommended for classroom use in courses in Latin American studies or labor studies. The pamphlet forms part of Global Exchange's current campaign to promote solidarity between Canadian, Mexican and U.S. teachers. Those interested in visiting Mexico in August of 1997 to exchange views with Mexican teachers should contact Sandra Nova at Global Exchange (800) 497-1994. The pamphlet is available from Global Exchange, 2017 Mission Street, Suite 303; San Francisco, California 94110, telephone, (415) 255-7296. The e- mail address is: gx-info@globalexchange.org. The pamphlet can be found on Global Exchange's Web site, www.globalexchange.org, in the "campaigns" section as well. END MEXICAN LABOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS, VOL. 2, NO. 8, 16 APRIL 1997

--- End of forwarded message from Dan La Botz <103144.2651@compuserve.com>

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