January 2008

New York Picket Protests Repression Against Mexican Miners

NEW YORK, January 12 – The dispatching of more than 1,000 Mexican federal and state police to evict striking miners in Cananea, in the northern state of Sonora, set off an emergency protest picket in New York City. Some 20 protesters demonstrated in front of the Mexican Consulate proclaiming their solidarity with the mine workers who have been on strike since July 30 to protest the hideous safety conditions in the copper mine, the largest in Latin America, and against government attacks on the workers.

The demonstrators chanted in Spanish “Ejército fuera, policía fuera, viva, viva la huelga minera” (Army out, police out, long live the miners strike, and “La lucha obrera no tiene frontera” (Workers struggle knows no borders). The protest was called by the Internationalist Group, U.S. section of the League for the Fourth International, and included trade unionists from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) representing public school teachers, the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) representing faculty and staff at City University, and Teamsters.

The protest was covered in an article and photo in the NYC Spanish-language daily El Diario-La Prensa, El Imparcial and Dossier Politico in Hermosillo (capital of Sonora) and in a prominent photo in the Mexico City daily La Jornada.

Free the Arrested Strikers! Cops and Troops Out of Cananea!

Hundreds of Mexican Police Attack Miners Strike, 40 Injured

An army of at least 800 federal and state police and Mexican army troops that assaulted the six-month-old strike by copper miners at Cananea, in the northern state of Sonora, January 11. (Photo: Miriam Villavicencia, Canal 12)

JANUARY 11 – An emergency picket has been called for Saturday, January 12 at 3 p.m. outside the Mexican consulate in New York City to protest a police attack on striking miners in Cananea, Mexico.

Shortly before noon today, the Mexican Mediation and Arbitration Board (JFCyA) declared “non-existent” the six-month-old strike of copper miners in Cananea, in the state of Sonora. Hours earlier, an occupation army of more than 800 federal and state police arrived in the mining town in some 80 vehicles. Within minutes of the arbitration board announcement, the repressive forces swarmed through the streets of Cananea heading for the mine, which has been occupied by strikers for more than six months.  News reports list more than 40 people injured, nine miners arrested and several strikers unaccounted for.

The mine workers are protesting the notoriously dangerous safety conditions at the mine (the largest open pit copper mine in the world) and smelter. The facilities have greatly deteriorated since the mine was privatized in 1990. Delegations of trade unionists from the U.S., particularly Steel Workers from Arizona, have visited the mine, as they have during previous strikes. The arbitration board ruling also affects striking miners in the state of Zacatecas, and in the silver mining town of Taxco.

The federal government has repeatedly used Mexico’s corporatist labor laws, modeled on the labor code of Mussolini's fascist Italy, to outlaw the miners’ strike. Although courts have issued injunctions against the JFCyA rulings, the state and federal governments have proceeded with their heavy-handed repression.

Safety conditions at the Cananea plant are so notorious that an international team of doctors and health professionals which visited the struck plant in October stated that they found a “clear picture of a work-place being ‘deliberately run into the ground’.” The mine is part of the Grupo México, owned by the billionaire Germán Larrea, who also owns the coal mine at Pasta de Conchos, where 65 miners were buried alive in February 2006.

The picket in New York is being called by the Internationalist Group, which in 2006 initiated a number of demonstrations in support of striking teachers in Oaxaca, in southern Mexico.

See also: Mexico: Cananea Must Not Stand Alone!  (1 February 2008)
                Mexican Miners Strike for Safety  (15 December 2007)
               Cananea: A Century of Internationalist Class Struggle (December 2008)

To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com