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Action Alert: Labour rights defenders assaulted in Puebla, Mexico

May 5, 2010

The following report and urgent action request was received from our colleagues at the Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador (Worker Support Centre) in Puebla, Mexico.

On April 28, 2010, two members of the Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador (CAT) team, Enrique Morales Montaño and Coral Juarez Melo, were visiting employees of the multi-national autoparts company Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI) in the community of Santo Toribio, Tlaxcala when Enrique was physically assaulted by the 17 year old son of Magdaleno Texis, a local leader of the CROM, the "official union" that has signed a "protection contract" with management at the Johnson Controls Puebla factory. This is only the most recent incident in a series of threats and attacks against the CAT and JCI workers.

The CROM is affiliated with the PRI, Mexico's historical ruling party, which currently holds political power in the State of Puebla. For the past three years, the CAT has been providing advice and support to the Johnson Controls workers who are fighting for the right to be represented by an independent, democratic union at the Johnson Controls FINSA factory.

According to the CAT, the assailant threatened to kill Enrique and Coral, other members of the CAT, and "any others making trouble for his father." He also reportedly said, "This is a message from Magdaleno Texis and Marcelino Tecuapacho (another CROM leader), and this is just the beginning. Next we will go after the rest of you sons of bitches and the CAT."

Noticing that a hostile group of people were approaching, Coral started screaming for help from the police. She was able to identify two people in the crowd that looked like Magdaleno Texis and Marcelino Tecuapacho. 

According to the CAT, the police told Coral and Enrique, "It would be better to reach an agreement with the assailants and ask for a payment on the spot," because if they went to the Prosecutor's Office, "things could get complicated." Rather than take a payoff, the CAT attempted to file a formal complaint, but was shunted from office to office until they were finally able to lodge their complaint at 1:30 in the morning.

As of April 30, the assailant was under arrest, but was likely to be released on bond, because he is a juvenile. The CAT is working with the Fray Julian Garces Human Rights Centre in Tlaxcala to file a complaint with the State Human Rights Commission, including a request for precautionary measures.

Please help support the CAT by sending a letter to Mexican President Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa asking him to guarantee the safety of Coral Juarez and Enrique Morales.

Send letter in support of the CAT

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