Mexican labour activists face violent threats

Labour rights article written on the 18 Feb 2011

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A series of threats targeting Mexican labour advocates have prompted the Maquila Solidarity Network to launch an urgent international response calling for the protection of their lives.

Maquila Solidarity Network has reported that in December 2010 unidentified robbers broke into the offices of Centre for Worker Support (CAT), a labour non-for-profit organisation supporting organising efforts at factories in Puebla, Mexico. The robbers scrawled the words “YOU DO NOT KNOW WHO YOU ARE MESSING WITH” on the office walls. They also hacked into computers, stole paper and electronic documents and destroyed equipment, resulting in more than AUS $16,000 in damage.

Less than one month later, the robbers sent another intimidating message to the CAT team, which described in detail the violent attack on a Mexican activist some years earlier: “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.”

CAT members encountered several acts of intimidation and violence throughout 2010. On April 28 two members of CAT were assaulted. On August 9 three members were threatened while conducting field work at Johnson Controls Inc., a factory which manufactures parts for car interiors, including Volkswagen, Chrysler, Ford, Mercedes Benz and Nissan. One of the CAT workers was told that if she continued to interfere with CROM (a federation widely acknowledged to function as a “protection contact” at the factory) she would have to face the consequences.

Maquila Solidarity Network is calling for your support. They have prepared an urgent action asking the Mexican authorities to prevent further attacks on CAT and its members.

Take urgent action and support Mexican activists