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URGENT ACTION: Death Threats Targeted at Labour Rights Activists in Mexico

January 19, 2011

On December 20, 2010, unidentified robbers broke into the offices of the Worker Support Centre (CAT), a labour rights 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 Executive Director, and the CAT institutional account, stole paper and electronic documents, and destroyed equipment, causing more than 200,000 pesos (US$ 16,500) 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."

These recent acts of intimidation follow months of violence directed at the CAT. On April 28, 2010, two 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 that if she continued to "mess with CROM", a national federation that holds what is widely acknowledged to be a “protection contact” at the JCI FINSA plant, "there would be consequences."

Although the CAT has asked the Mexican government to take action repeatedly, officials have done little to respond. Meanwhile, the threats continue.

Take Action Now!  Send a letter to the Mexican authorities demanding protection of the life and physical integrity of the CAT labour rights advocates.

Read more about the struggle at Johnson Controls.

Read more about Blanca Velázquez, the CAT's Executor Director