WASHINGTON - April 21 - The AFL-CIO deplores the violence that occurred yesterday in Lázaro Cárdenas, Mexico, when some 800 federal and state police attempted to forcibly dislodge striking mineworkers from the Sicartsa steel mill. At last report, three workers and one police officer were killed and many others wounded.
The Mexican federal government, and in particular Labor Secretary Francisco Salazar, have contributed to this tragedy. In recent weeks, mine workers throughout the country have carried out massive protests and strikes against mining employers to demand the reinstatement of Napoleon Gomez, the democratically elected leader of the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers of Mexico. Gomez was forcibly removed from office by the administration of Mexican President Vicente Fox after demanding an investigation and better mine safety inspections following a gas explosion that killed 65 miners at the Pasta de Conchos mine on February 19. The Mexican government’s extreme action violated the union’s constitution, Mexican labor law and international labor agreements signed by Mexico. Several employers have resolved the conflicts by affirming their support for Gómez as the union’s elected leader. Others chose the path of confrontation, which has now led to bloodshed.
We implore the Mexican Government to immediately reverse the disastrous decisions of the Labor Secretary by recognizing Napoleon Gómez as the elected leader of the union, and by entering into discussions with the workers on the critical issue of mine safety.