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Death Threats Targeted at Labor Rights Activists in Mexico!
On December 20, 2010, unidentified robbers broke into the offices of the Center for Worker Support (CAT), a non-profit organization that has been supporting organizing efforts at two Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) factories in Puebla, Mexico, and scrawled the following message on the wall: YOU DO NOT KNOW WHO YOU ARE MESSING WITH. The robbers hacked into the e-mail address of Blanca Velázquez, CAT’s Executor Director, and the CAT institutional account, stole paper and electronic documents, and destroyed equipment, causing more than 200,000 pesos in damage.
On January 11, 2011, the robbers sent another intimidating message to the CAT team through the hacked CAT institutional e-mail account, describing in detail an earlier violent attack on an activist in Mexico: “KIDNAPPING OF DIGNA OCHOA: In October of 1999 various subjects entered her home, gagged her, blindfolded her and interrogated her during approximately nine hours, to then abandon her tied to her bed by her hands and feet, next to an open gas tank. She was able to free herself and tried calling the police, but the line had been cut.”
The recent acts of intimidation add to months of violence directed at the CAT. On April 2, 2010, two former workers for Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) and members of the CAT were assaulted. On August 9, three more members of the CAT were threatened while doing fieldwork at JCI. The masked men asked the workers to tell Blanca, CAT’s Executive Director, that if she continued to “mess with CROM”, the protection union at the JCI FINSA plant, “there would be consequences.” On August 16, two JCI employees and members of CAT were beaten and held hostage for more than seven hours, during which they were assaulted by members of the Confederation of Union Organizations (COS), the former protection union at the JCI Interiors/Resurrection plant.
Although the CAT has asked the Mexican government to take action repeatedly, officials have done little to respond. Meanwhile, the threats continue.
Send a letter to the Mexican authorities demanding protection of the life and integrity of the CAT labor rights advocates. Ask for a swift, thorough, and immediate investigation, and all possible measures taken to ensure the safety of all CAT members and employees.
The International Metalworkers Foundation (IMF), the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), the International Trade Union (UNI) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) are organizing Global Days of Action from February 14 to 19, 2011 in order to demand trade union rights in Mexico. For more information, go to: www.imfmetal.org/mexico2011.
Check out our collaborative labor rights blog, Labor is Not a Commodity!