PITTSBURGH, June 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) condemned Sunday night's assault by heavily armed federal riot police on striking members of the Mexican Mineworkers' Union at the Cananea copper mine near the U.S. border.
Last night at about 10 pm, hundreds of police surrounded the mine and used tear gas to dislodge workers who were occupying the entrances. The union office was also assaulted. Local media reported a number of fires in the town. The police had warrants for the arrest of several union officers, but it has not been confirmed if any had been arrested.
In the past few days, the Mexican Government had moved several police units to the Mexico-Arizona border as part of what it called a border security exercise.
"Mexico's President, Felipe Calderon, has launched a reign of terror against working people," said Leo W. Gerard, USW international president.
"We call on the U.S. Congress to halt delivery of all funding to Mexican security forces so long as they are used to attack workers who are exercising their freedom of association," Gerard declared. "Our American union members' tax dollars can not be used to support a union busting government in Mexico."
The U.S. Congress is currently debating an increase in funding to Mexican military and police forces under what's called the Merida Initiative.
More than 1,000 members of the National Union of Mine & Metal Workers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSRM) have been on strike at Cananea since Jul. 30, 2007. This past February, the Mexican courts allowed the company that owns the mine, Grupo Mexico, to fire the workers. The workers have continued to occupy the mine and have appealed for support to the Mexican Congress and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.
For more information: www.usw.org/.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)