ILRF: violence forces Mexican Worker Center to close; Demand justice now!
The failure of Mexican authorities to address years of violence and threats against a leading worker rights group has forced it to close its office in Puebla following the May 15 kidnapping and torture of José Enrique Morales Montaño, a member of the Workers' Support Center (CAT, Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador).Read below for more information, from our friends at the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project.In solidarity,
International Labor Rights Forum
Violence Forces Mexican Worker Center to Close; Demand Justice Now!On May 15, José Enrique Morales Montaño, a member of the Workers' Support Center (CAT, Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador), traveled to the local labor board in Puebla, Mexico at 1 p.m. to defend a group of textile industry workers fighting for their rights at a factory in the region. At 5 p.m. he was kidnapped, tortured, and held for 12 hours, during which time his captors kept a gun pressed to his head for extended periods of time and threatened to kill him and other members of the CAT. At approximately 5 a.m. the next morning, Morales was left on the Puebla-Veracruz highway. At 7:30 a.m. the same morning, the director of the CAT, Blanca Velásquez, who has received numerous death threats previously, received two text messages saying that she would be next.
The kidnapping follows years of systematic harassment and violent threats levied against the CAT for its work promoting and defending labor rights. In December 2010, unknown persons robbed the CAT’s offices and left written death threats scrawled on one of the walls. Since then, CAT members have been physically assaulted and have received death threats by email. The harassment is believed to be in response to the CAT’s work defending workers at transnational factories in Puebla, including Johnson Controls, Inc. Other labor and human rights groups in the Puebla region are also under threat.
In response to the violence, the Project of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ProDESC) and the CAT filed four complaints with various Mexican government authorities (PGR, FEADLE, PGJP) but there has been no substantive advance to date.
ProDESC and the CAT, with extensive national and international support, last year requested that the National Commission of Human Rights and the Puebla State Commission of Human Rights grant immediate precautionary measures to protect the CAT members in their work. While these measures were granted and implemented in 2011, the Puebla State Commission suspended the measures in April 2012 without any advance in the investigations of these threats and without conducting a risk analysis that would have justified the decision. The attack on Mr. Morales took place one month later.
ACT NOW: Contact Mexican officials and demand that they investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the acts of violence waged against the CAT since 2010, including the kidnapping and torture of José Enrique Morales Montaño and threats against Blanca Velasquez and Cecilia Medina. The CAT is also demanding that the relevant authorities institute protective measures that would ensure the safety of CAT members.This email was sent by the International Labor Rights Forum.
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