On the matter of Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, the Mexican government appears to be of two minds. That’s been keeping Mr. Gomez, a popular labor leader, safe for the time being in self-imposed Canadian exile. Three years ago, Gomez, general secretary of Mexico’s National Union of Miners and Metalworkers (“Los Mineros”), fled to Canada to avoid arrest on charges of fraud and embezzlement. He repeatedly has vowed to stay there until all charges are dropped. The Mexican government – at least the portion favorable to his case – appears to be obliging him. On March 22, the union announced in a press release that Gomez has won an injunction against his arrest, thus making extradition less likely.
The labor leader fled his native country in 2006 in the wake of allegations that he’d improperly dissolved, and benefited from, a $55 million trust fund created after the privatization of the Cananea copper mine in Sonora province nearly 20 years ago. Living in Vancouver, B.C. and re-elected general secretary last March, Gomez had three arrest warrants issued by courts in Mexico City and Sonora. But a panel of judges in Mexico City now has granted an injunction against their enforcement. The miner workers union leadership claims the can account for the money. What’s more, they say, the government is teaming up with mining giant Grupo Mexico to carry out a vendetta against Gomez. But dissident union members in a Chihuahua-based cooperative deny they ever had granted permission for the union to dissolve the trust fund and that the money indeed has been mismanaged. Meanwhile, a nearly two-year strike at the Cananea mine continues to drag on. (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News, 3/23/09).