Tucson Progressive

Pamela J. Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

United Steeleworkers’ negotiator harassed and arrested in Mexico

Manny Armenta, a United Steelworkers (USW) lead negotiator for miners in Sonora, Mexico and Tucson, was harassed and arrested on bogus charges in Mexico this week.

Armenta’s arrest looks suspiciously like union-busting, since it occurred a week after he led a “sound-off” event with Mexican and Arizonan miners at the Asarco Mine in Tucson. The Asarco Mine is owned by Grupo Mexico, the same multi-national corporation that employs the Mexican miners. Here’s the story from the USW.

The United Steelworkers (USW) today condemned the arrest of one of its international representatives by Mexican customs officers on Monday, [January 24, 2011].

Manny Armenta, a USW sub-district director in Albuquerque, NM, was arrested while on his way to meet with attorneys for the Mexican mineworkers’ union called Los Mineros. The USW has been supporting the mineworkers who have waged a nearly four-year strike against Grupo Mexico with a copper mine property at Cananea in Mexico’s northern state of Sonora.

At about 2 p.m. (MST), a customs officer stopped Armenta’s car, which is leased by the union, accusing him of driving a stolen vehicle. Armenta presented documentation to no avail. After searching the vehicle with dogs, the officer attempted to extort a “fine” of 185,000 pesos (about $15,000). When Armenta refused to pay he was arrested, detained overnight, and released early Tuesday, Jan. 25 after posting a bond of 80,000 pesos (about $7,750).

Amenta’s car was impounded and it has not been returned. Armenta’s wallet was taken from him in the arrest, but later returned, minus $700 in cash.

USW President Leo W. Gerard declared in a statement, “This outrageous treatment by Mexican federal authorities shows the extent of the government’s corruption.” He adds: “We demand that these bogus charges be dropped with the immediate return of the union property along with what belongs to Manny”

He said, “It is ironic that although Mexican courts have issued 20 warrants for Germán Larrea – the owner of Grupo Mexico – the government has never been able to arrest him. Yet they can arrest Manny because he is in Mexico helping the mineworkers defend their rights.”

On January 17-18, Mexican mineworker leaders joined USW copper miners who met with officials of Asarco – a copper producer also owned by Grupo Mexico – at a “sound-off” event in Tucson. The USW contract with Asarco expires in June. Armenta is a lead negotiator at Asarco.

Gerard said, “By arresting Manny, the Mexican government is trying to intimidate the USW copper miners from exercising our right to collective bargaining and showing solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Mexico.”

Commenting that Armenta was arrested on the same day the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Mexico in support of that country’s law enforcement actions on illegal drug activity, Gerard said: “I hope the U.S. State Department will put as much energy into seeking justice for Manny and for the rights of workers at Cananea as they have in praising the Mexican government.”

The USW said that they would file a formal complaint with the U.S. State Department.

For more on the USW and Los Mineros in Mexico: http://www.usw.org/.

4 comments on “United Steeleworkers’ negotiator harassed and arrested in Mexico

  1. JoeS
    January 28, 2011



  2. Jim Hannley
    January 29, 2011

    I know that you sent this to Jennifer Johnson, press secretary of the Az Democratic Party asking for a comment. I am disappointed to see there is no mention of a reaction from that quarter.


  3. Livin AZ
    January 30, 2011

    I thought there was no more union at that mine. What are they striking? If there is no union they have nothing to strike. Thou I could be mistaken.


  4. JoeS
    January 30, 2011

    Maybe the Citizens of Mexico could borrow some Egyptian intestinal fortitude to throw off their own yoke of oppression….


Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on January 28, 2011 by in Arizona, Capitalism, corporatists, economy, jobs, organizing, Tucson and tagged , , , .

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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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