Mexican Teachers Boss Accused of Theft; Steps Down

Juan Diaz de la Torre, until recently the head of the Mexican teachers union Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educacion (SNTE), may have done the impossible by creating nostalgia for his predecessor, Elba Esther Gordillo Morales. Late in October, a group of member teachers filed a criminal complaint against de la Torre, accusing him of embezzling millions of pesos. “There are thousands of teachers in the country who are in the dark because they don’t know what their money is being used for,” said spokesman Venancio Morales Zuniga. The SNTE countered with its own suit, claiming the charge is “totally false and devoid of reality.” But with pressure on him growing, de la Torre stepped down a month later. The main beneficiary of all this – perish the thought – may be Ms. Gordillo, released from house arrest in August. Her supporters, regrettably, include teachers.

Established in 1943, … Read More ➡

The Illegal Immigrant Caravan: Made in Chicago

The Central American human caravan, at this writing somewhere in Mexico, still has a long way to go before it (illegally) reaches our southern border. The distance from its country of origin, Honduras, to the nearest U.S. city, McAllen, Tex., is more than a thousand miles. That’s quite a haul. The Bataan Death March of April 1942, an atrocity conducted at Japanese gunpoint, was only 65 miles long. Given the physical risks, there can be no doubt that the caravan’s march, under cover of humanitarian impulses, is being enabled from above. There is no other way these people could have traveled as far as they have. It thus should come as no shock that this project is the handiwork of a tight network of radical activists in America.

By various accounts, the center of gravity for this campaign is a Chicago organization called Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which translated from … Read More ➡

Mexican Authorities Ask Canada to Extradite Mine Workers Boss

Napoleon Gomez Urrutia has been on the lam for some three years. And now that his government wants to put him on trial again, he doesn’t mind hiding indefinitely. Gomez is – or was, depending on how one looks at it – general secretary of Mexico’s National Union of Miners and Metalworkers, or “Los Mineros.” Now with roughly 280,000 members, it’s one of the nation’s largest and most powerful labor organizations. The Mexican government insists it’s also one of the most corrupt. That might not be saying much in light of the standards his accusers have set over the years, but they are convinced the Oxford-educated Gomez Urrutia is a crook all the same. The problem is that he’s been living in exile with his wife in Vancouver, British Columbia since 2006. And he’s not planning on leaving.

 

On December 30, the Mexican government formally submitted a request Read More ➡

Mexican Teachers Union Boss, Cronies Wrecking Education

In Mexico, corruption is endemic to everyday life. That country’s affiliate of the worldwide nonprofit monitoring group, Transparency International, estimates that Mexicans in 2005 paid nearly $2 billion to public servants in more than 115 million acts of bribery. Organized labor fits very much into this scheme of things, and perhaps no more so than that country’s teachers union, National Union of Education Workers. Typically referred to by its Spanish-language acronym, SNTE (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educacion), the 1.4 million-member labor organization for decades has represented a huge obstacle to school reform in Mexico – and, less directly, to immigration reform in the U.S.

 

Running this behemoth with an iron fist and a greased palm is one Elba Esther Gordillo Morales, a woman whose ability to strike fear into opponents has even current Mexican President Felipe Calderon walking softly. A new report written by College of William Read More ➡

Mexico in Turmoil After Strike, Riot, and Charges of Corruption

Mexico never has been a paragon of political stability. That country’s civil war (1910-20) was at least as brutal as our own, and resulted in the execution or assassination of five consecutive presidents. The era of one-party rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that began in 1929 and ended with the election of President Vicente Fox in 2000 provided only the illusion of stability. Its main legacy is a culture of corruption that has become next to impossible to erase. The near future may find things getting even worse. In fact, the aftermath of the recent and still-contested presidential election might even produce another civil war. The situation has been exacerbated by several factors: accusations of corruption at the nation’s steelworkers and miners union; a mine explosion in February that killed dozens of workers; and the shooting deaths of two workers at a steel mill by riot police. The Read More ➡

Mexican Miners Union Protests Government Intervention

So you think we’ve got labor problems here in the U.S.? South of the border, the miners’ union is on the brink of a civil war – and possibly a showdown with the Mexican government. On Tuesday, March 7, more than 20,000 workers belonging to the National Miners and Metal Workers Union marched through downtown Mexico City, protesting the government’s decision to oust the union’s general secretary, Napoleon Gomez Urrutia. The 250,000-member union already had staged a two-day strike in support of Urrutia, currently under government investigation for corruption. The strike, which shut down most of the nation’s coal, steel, copper, zinc and silver mines, comes in the wake of a major mining disaster and accusations of massive corruption. 

 

For now, the union has a new leader, Elias Morales. At least some people say he’s the leader. Mexican officials are citing documents filed by pro-Morales members of the union’s oversight Read More ➡