We received the following letter via fax . We translated it and are disseminating it with the hope of assisting the companeros of SUTAUR-100. SUTAUR-100 is the trade union representing the workers of the Route 100 bus company. It has more than 12,000 members and is one of the most militant and progressive of the independent unions in Mexico. Its membership has long been active in the mass movements in Mexico, and is well known for providing transportation to demonstrations for the shanty town residents and campesinos coming in from the outskirts of the capital city.
The Ruta-100 Bus Company mainly served the poor shanty towns and colonias of the outskirts of Mexico City. It was heavily subsidized by the Mexican Government and technically can not be declared bankrupt. The PRI government shut down the company in order to attack the union organization and as part of the increasing repression against progressive and independent organizations.
As has happened with other recent political arrests of members of organizations fighting for social justice, the government has accused the union of providing material support to the EZLN. The total bail for the SUTAUR-100 members and advisor was set at TEN million dollars (60 million new pesos)! Obviously the government is out to destroy this union and to terrorize the rest of the independent unions and organizations.
The Mexican government is running scared as the mexican workers, peasants, students and even sections of middle class professionals are becoming more and more angry over the broken promises and corruption of the PRI. Part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) included promises from the PRI to raise the wages of the Mexican workers. Instead the workers see their purchasing power cut by 30-50% , and their living conditions worsening daily. The independent (non-government) unions are at the forefront of the fight to defend the workers from this attack.
With the April 20th deadline for a peace agreement in Chiapas coming up, the situation in Mexico is tense. On April 10 (the 75th anniversary of the assassination of Emiliano Zapata) there was a demonstration of at least 50,000 people supporting the rebellion in Chiapas and the SUTAUR-100 workers. On April 11th there was another mass demonstration of thousands of people.
Our brothers and sisters in Mexico, from Chiapas to Mexico City are looking towards all of us for solidarity and support. Please pass this information on and do what you can to support the SUTAUR-100 workers. It is likely that the SUTAUR-100 offices have been closed by now. However, messages can be sent to them through the offices of CLETA in Mexico City (voice and fax 5-92-09-19 ) .
You can also contact us at the numbers listed below for more information.
El Machete Newspaper-Chicago
Mexico City, Mexico
April 12, 1995
To our fraternal unions and organizations in the United States:
I, Venancio Felipe Gil Sanchez, in my role as General Secretary of the Sindicato Unico de Trabajadores de Autotransportes Urbanos de Pasajeros Ruta-100 (Union of Urban Passenger Transportation R-100), am directing this letter to you in order to inform you of the following:
On Saturday, April 8, at 2 a.m. we workers were very surprised when we presented ourselves for work as usual and found ourselves blocked (from entering) by the authorities, including repressive forces of several police organizations (granaderos y policia preventiativos) who argued that the Empresa R-100 bus company was declared to be bankrupt , thus breaking the management-labor relationship and the collective bargaining contract.
We denounce this situation ;the company is a decentralized business, government subsidized because of its social benefit. Furthermore, the legal process was not followed for a bankruptcy declaration in that the union representation was never notified.
Immediately (after this) a witch hunt began and three members of our Executive Committee and two rank and file members were detained. Added to this , our bank accounts, property of the union, were arbitrarily frozen, with the aim of making any movement of the union organization impossible.
On April 9, our union legal advisor, Ricardo Barco Lopez, was detained in a show of violence and power. The authorities have set bail at an exaggerated and unconstitional amount.
For this reason, we fraternally ask for your physical, moral and especially economic solidarity, in the form of loans until our economic situation is normalized, in the amount which you consider to be in agreement with your situation.
Hoping for a favorable, fraternal resolution (to this request).
FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND INDEPENDENCE OF THE WORKERS
Venancio Felipe Gil Sanchez
General Secretary, SUTAUR-100