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BCTF International Solidarity Blog

President of a Mexican union works from Vancouver

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 Why has the president of a Mexican union been carrying out his duties in Vancouver, rather than in Mexico?  A puzzling question. 

Napolean Gomez is the of the Mexican National Miners’ Union and has been forced into exile because of his campaigning to get a mining company to be held responsible for what he calls “industrial homicide.”  His members working in northern Mexico were trapped by a collapse of a mine.  The government and the company just left the miners to die. 

He was seeking accountability of the Mexican government and the company.  They allowed unsafe conditions and abandoned the miners who paid the penalty for company greed and government corruption. 

The government brought criminal charges against Gomez to try to shut him up.  He then came to Canada to avoid being unjustly imprisoned.  His members re-elected him as president and he has used technology to be engaged in the work of the union from a distance. 

Gomez has written a book called Collapse of Dignity:  The story of a mining tragedy and the fight against greed and corruption in Mexico.  One commentator said the book is “a powerful testimony to the attack by corrupt politicians and cynical businessmen to silence a union and its leader.” 

The Steelworkers’ union has been supporting Gomez in Vancouver as an act of solidarity.  Our teacher colleagues in Mexico have also faced repression and sometimes death when they stand up to the corruption in government and in their own union.  They have organized in the CNTE, a group within the SNTE teachers’ union to challenge corruption and democratize their national union. 

If you are interested in how teacher unions in Canada work with colleagues in Mexico, you can find a link to an article posted at the bottom of the Tri-national Coalition webpage at http://bit.ly/1noJx2W.