The following article was written by Napoleón Gómez Urrutia and published on February 19th, 2015 in La Jornada, Mexico City’s leading daily newspaper considered by many scholars as one of the last remaining independent newspapers in the Americas.
Cynicism as a Form of Government
Napoleón Gómez Urrutia
Thursday, 19th February 2015
The growth model that was introduced in Mexico a little more than three decades ago doesn’t allow for changes to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of the majority of the population, let alone observe the minimum respect for their human and labour rights. Instead, economic policies that continue to be implemented, based on financial, tax, labour, energy and educational reforms, have served to reinforce the obsolete, base and immoral system of exploitation. This has generated higher inequality and a level of extreme poverty which now affects more than half of the Mexican population, people who already receive the lowest wages and income in Latin America.
A clear example of what’s been going on can be found in labour policy, which has taken a real backwards step in the area of freedom of association and trade union autonomy, by breaching workers’ right to freedom of association with impunity, thereby ratcheting up the inhuman exploitation of the workforce. The upshot of this has been the authorities leaving the creation and control of trade union organisations, along with the election of their leaders, in the hands of the country’s worst business owners. In other words, our republic’s government has relinquished its historic duty to comply with the law and act as the guardian and protector of workers’ rights.
As we pointed out in no uncertain terms at the time, ever since Felipe Calderón and his abominable and corrupt Labour Secretary Javier Lozano Alarcón’s degrading and retrograde labour reform was passed, civil servants –some of whom are still to be found lodged in the current government– have acted in the interests of the business classes, because that’s why they were planted there. Their aim is to weaken or dismantle the country’s democratic and independent unions.
The PAN party governments of Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón took a serious swing to the right in terms of labour relations, and they left behind some civil servants embedded in the current STPS to serve and obey the interests of big business, among them Deputy Secretary Secretary Rafael Avante Juárez, and the Director of the Registry of Associations, Lucio Galileo Lastra González, who have been ardently registering bogus trade unions and handing them the toma de nota. This enables pseudo-unions to operate under the full protection of the law, at the service of cynical and corrupt business owners who have become gangsters and bullies of the working classes, without even allowing them to express a free opinion about the organisation they would like to join.
The latest misdemeanour on the part of these deceitful civil servants happened just last week, when they registered a new mining and metalwork trade union in favour of Coahuila’s resident big-shot despot Alonso Ancira Elizondo of Grupo Acerero del Norte, so named after the shadowy privatisation of Altos Hornos de México. For over five years, Ancira has dedicated himself to intimidating, pressurising and attacking workers who have been members of the National Miners Union for 60 years or more, using hired thugs to try and force them to join his rubber-stamped circus, the so-called mining alliance, which is made up of chumps and traitors under Ancira’s tyrannical boot. This is the very same man who committed major fraud over 12 years ago, spent four years in hiding in Israel and who is still in debt to the banks to the tune of around two billion dollars today, by remaining in suspension of payments.
These are the services brazenly provided by Avante, Galileo and undoubtedly some other current STPS bureaucrats. They have done so without any justification, using contracts and bogus mining trade unions, in support of the CTNM, CROC and CTC among other confederations, which are mainly involved in hotel, restaurant, bar or taxi services, and never before in the metal extraction or processing industries. They’re the very same civil servants who gave ‘plastic unions’ to Grupo México’s Germán Larrea and Peñoles’ Alberto Bailleres under Felipe Calderón’s six-year term, forcing employees to vote for these company-backed unions, sometimes using the repressive tactics of state and federal police, and even the army, but always under the threat and intimidation of job losses.
In their article published in La Jornada on July 11th, 2014, two well-known labour lawyers, the brilliant Dr. Néstor de Buen and the distinguished Óscar Alzaga, paint a clear portrait of exactly who Alonso Ancira Elizondo is, describing him as the man who presides over life and death in Coahuila state. Although he wasn’t born there, he exerts unlimited power over the state, blocking the free press, manipulating local television and radio, controlling the region’s chambers of commerce and trade associations and of course using hired stooges, thugs and hitmen to control trade union leaders, who are subjected to absolute suppression, domination and constant humiliation, with no principles or values. The worst of it all, as Dr. Néstor de Buen and the lawyer Alzaga have articulated, is that it shouldn’t be possible to force anybody to belong to an organisation, according to the clear terms of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
Add to this the curious fact that whenever these pseudo-leaders who represent the very dregs of trade unionism celebrate their anniversary events, the Labour and Economy Secretaries send their delegates to Zacatecas, Coahuila, Sonora and other states to endorse and praise this form of trade unionism, because it doesn’t break out into strikes or struggles on the part of the workers, and instead is safely tucked into the beds and pockets of business and federal government.
Let’s see how long this shameful marriage, this cynicism, this obvious corruption –and for that matter the jobs of these public employees– will last. The true, authentic workers’ movement won’t let them keep up this charade, nor will it allow their irresponsibility to harden working relations in this country, for dignity and class pride rise far above this nonsense of traitors and dishonest and complicit civil servants, who don’t know anything about them, nor will they ever do.