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Mexican mineworkers' leader blocked from attending Congress

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18 June, 2012Napoleon Gomez, the elected leader of the Mexican mineworkers' union (Los Mineros) has been kept on the Interpol list by the Mexican government even though the Mexican courts have declared him innocent.

Because of the Interpol listing, Mr Gomez has been stopped from being a keynote speaker tomorrow at the founding congress of IndustriALL Global Union in Copenhagen, Denmark, where human rights across the globe is high on the agenda for debate.

Human rights heroes wanted to hear Gomez on Mexican miners' struggle

"There will be human rights heroes from every continent at the Congress, union activists who have been arrested, jailed, their lives, or their families lives threatened, all because they are ready to campaign for the rights of working people, all because they believe working people deserve to be respected," said Jyrki Raina, the in-coming General Secretary of IndustriALL today.

"We are disappointed that Napoleon Gomez has been stopped from joining the 1400 delegates in Denmark to tell us about the struggles of Mexican miners for human rights, respect and decent treatment," Mr Raina said.

Six-year campaign of political persecution includes Interpol arrest warrant

The Mexican government has carried out a six-year campaign of political persecution against Gomez and his union, which represents workers in the mining, steel, and manufacturing sectors.  The labour authorities have twice refused to recognise Gomez's election, but last month, the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice ordered the Mexican government to issue the recognition document, known as "toma de nota" in Mexico.

Mexican state and federal prosecutors filed multiple false criminal charges against Gomez, alleging that a transfer of pension fund assets to the union in 2005 violated bank fraud and money laundering statutes. But five Mexican appellate courts have ruled that these charges were unconstitutional and had no legal foundation. Despite these decisions, federal prosecutors issued a new warrant for Gomez in July 2011, and have asked Interpol to arrest him.

Canada provides refuge; Gomez receives human rights award

Gomez, who lives in Canada and has been granted permanent residency by the Canadian government despite the charges against him in Mexico, recently filed an appeal with Interpol's internal review body, arguing that the Mexican government's recycling of criminal charges that its own courts have rejected violates international law principles of due process and Interpol's own guidelines.

Under the leadership of Napoleon Gomez, whom has served as a member of the Executive Committee of the International Metalworkers' Federation, the fight of Los Mineros and the persecution of democratic unions in Mexico has become a major issue for the global trade union movement.

Last year, the AFL-CIO awarded Gomez its Meany-Kirkland Human Rights Award in recognition of the struggle of Los Mineros to defend trade union democracy and improve the conditions of Mexican workers.