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Cablegate: State Governor Accuses Former President Of

VZCZCXRO3682
PP RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHM RUEHHO RUEHJO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD
RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #0863/01 0521949
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211949Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5448
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEHXI/LABOR COLLECTIVE
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MEXICO 000863

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT OF DRL/AWH AND ILCSR, WHA/MEX AND PPC, USDOL FOR ILAB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ECON PHUM PINR MEX
SUBJECT: STATE GOVERNOR ACCUSES FORMER PRESIDENT OF
PRESSURING HIM TO MAKE FALSE ALLEGATIONS IN 2006 MINING
ACCIDENT

REF: (A) 06 MEXICO 6750 (B) 06 MEXICO 6655

1. SUMMARY: During a recent radio interview the state
Governor of Coahuila accused the former president of Mexico
of pressuring him in 2006 to falsely accuse the then head of
the national miners union of culpability in a mine explosion
which left 65 workers dead. The Governor claims the former
president pressured him because of a desire (ultimately
achieved) to remove the union leader from his position and to
protect the then Secretary of Labor (and by extension his
administration) from responsibility for the deaths of the 65
miners. The governor of Coahuila has been less than clear as
to why he waited a year before going public with his
accusations. For their part, neither the former President
nor his former Secretary of Labor, have yet offered
convincing rebuttals to the accusations made against them.
The accusations against former President Fox have generated
considerable comment and attention from both the media and
Mexico,s main political parties. This matter once again
focuses public attention on a case that could involve not
just Mexico, but Canada and the US under the terms of
NAFTA,s North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation. END
SUMMARY.


A TRAGIC MINING ACCIDENT
------------------------

2. On February 19, 2006, a gas explosion at the Pasta de
Conchos mine in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila left
65 workers dead. At the time of the accident the Mexican
government rushed to provide what assistance it could and
apparently worked closely with Coahuila state authorities,
the mine owners (Minera Mexico) and Mexico,s National Union
of Miners and Metalworkers (SNTMMSRM) to coordinate rescue
efforts. Unfortunately the rescue attempts were unsuccessful
and within a relatively short period of time the close
cooperation that existed between the state and federal
government, the mine owners and the union all but faded away.

3. During the height of the rescue operation, once it became
clear than no one survived the accident, the Mexican
government, under then President Vicente Fox, promised that
the bodies of the dead miners would be recovered and returned
to their families. The Fox government also promised a broad
range of financial and other assistance to the families of
the miners and, more importantly, committed itself to
conducting a full and complete investigation of the accident.
As a part of this last commitment the GOM promised it would
prosecute to the full extent of the law anyone found
responsible, through either commission or omission, for the
circumstances leading to the accident at the Pasta de Conchos
mine.

4. Now, almost exactly one year later, most of the promises
of assistance to the families have not been kept, the
investigation (while nearing its end) is still ongoing and
the bodies of the dead miners have not been recovered.

I ACCUSE
--------

5. As the investigation into the causes of the accident at
the Pasta de Conchos mine appears to be nearing its end a
completely new and previously unknown element was thrown into
the politics surrounding this event. During a national radio
interview on February 18, the Governor of Coahuila, Humberto
Moreira, made a shocking accusation against former President
Fox. According to Governor Moreira, in a meeting at Los
Pinos (the Mexican White House) shortly after the accident,
President Fox asked him to falsely accuse the miners, labor
leader Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, of responsibility for the
events leading up to deaths of the 65 workers. The Coahuila
governor claimed the former president also asked him have
Gomez arrested as a way to deflect attention away from such
members of his administration who might otherwise be held
responsible, such as then Secretary of Labor, Javier Salazar
Saenz, and of Government (Interior), Carlos Abascal. If true,
Governor Moreira,s accusations would mean that former
President Fox and, by extension, his two cabinet members were
guilty of a crime under two different articles (225 and 400)
of Mexico,s Federal Criminal Code.

6. Governor Moreira,s accusations have become the subject
of intense media scrutiny and public commentary. Moreover,

MEXICO 00000863 002.2 OF 003


Mexico,s two main opposition political parties, the Party of
the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the former ruling
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) have seized upon
Governor Moreira,s accusations to call for an official
investigation by Mexico,s equivalent of the US Attorney
General,s Office and possible congressional hearings.
Humberto Moreira is a member of the PRI and former President
Fox is a member of Mexico,s current ruling National Action
Party (PAN). The leader of the PAN in the lower house of
Mexico,s congress has sharply dismissed Governor Moreira,s
accusation and challenged him to present proof of any of the
allegations he has made against former President Fox. Several
PAN Senators have also leaped to the former president,s
defense.

7. Although Governor Moreira was not specific as to the
exact date of his meeting with then President Fox, media
outlets have sharply highlighted the fact that the Pasta de
Concha incident occurred just days after the Fox
administration had removed Napoleon Gomez as head of the
SNTMMSRM union under highly controversial circumstances.
According to statements made by the Fox administration at the
time, it removed Gomez as union leader at the request of the
appropriate union authorities themselves after he had been
accused of misappropriating some USD 55 million in SNTMMSRN
pension funds. (Note: The funds in question have yet to be
recovered and were last known to be in an account in a
Mexican branch of Canadian owned Scotiabank Inverlat.)

8. The GOM has filed embezzlement charges against Napoleon
Gomez in federal courts but, in every case, the courts have
thrown them out. There are charges pending against Gomez in
several state courts but Coahuila is not one of them.
Governor Moreira firmly stated that there were never any
charges pending against Gomez in his state and he claims he
unequivocally told then President Fox that he would not
falsely accuse Gomez when there was no proof that he had
committed any crime. Although Gomez himself has firmly denied
wrongdoing of any kind, he quietly moved to Canada shortly
after the Fox government stripped him of his post as SNTMMSRN
leader. The Canadian government has twice refused GOM
requests to extradite Gomez stating that the Mexican
Government has yet to present firm evidence of the deposed
labor leader,s alleged crimes.

HE SAID; HE SAID
----------------

9. At present, Governor Moreira has presented no firm proof
of his accusation against former President Fox; nor is he
likely to do so since there are no known recordings of the
conversation that took place at Los Pinos. He has however,
sought out numerous opportunities to repeat and otherwise
reaffirm his accusations against the former president. His
affirmations have been unequivocal but they have not added
anything more in the way of proof or done much to persuade
those who doubt his version of events.

10. In one detailed press event, the Governor Moreira was
specifically asked why anyone should believe him and why he
waited a full year before making his allegations against the
former president. According to Moreira he did make timely
public statements concerning his allegations but that no one
paid attention to him. Moreira claimed that he was renewing
his allegations because: (1) of his concerns that those
responsible be held accountable for the deaths of the 65
miners; (2) of his desire to have the GOM live up to the
promises of assistance it made to the families of the
accident victims and; (3) to make sure that the GOM provided
the necessary resources to ensure that the accident at Pasta
de Conchos would not happen again elsewhere.


11. Although the senior PAN Federal Deputy in the Mexican
congress and several PAN Senators have been extremely vocal
in dismissing Governor Moreira,s accusations, the office of
former President Fox has been somewhat evasive in response to
the allegations. Former Labor Secretary Francisco Javier
Salazar, who now works in the national headquarters of the
PAN, declined to make any substantive rebuttal to Moreira,s
allegations claiming he did not want to interfere in any way
with the ongoing investigation.

12. Initially, the strongest defenders of former President
Fox were his former Secretary of Government Carlos Abascal

MEXICO 00000863 003.2 OF 003


and an unnamed media source. Absacal has been firm in
denying all allegations made by the Coahuila governor. His
denials are now being picked up an amplified by other senior
figures in the PAN. As for the unnamed source, he confirmed
that the meeting between Fox and Moreira did take place in
Los Pinos but that the only thing the former President asked
was that the Governor help his administration with the
investigation discovering what happened to the USD 55 million
that was now missing from the union pension fund.


COMMENT
-------

13. It is not clear why Governor Moreira waited a year to
make his allegations against former President Fox and his
administration. Some of the Governor,s supporters claim that
only a fool would have openly attacked a sitting president.
They also point out that, at the time of the accident, the
only government official at any level who openly acknowledged
that the 65 miners were dead was Governor Moreira. Initially
following the accident, then Secretary of Labor Francisco
Javier Salazar, repeatedly denied the miners were dead. The
defenders of President Fox accuse Moreira of making
unsupported allegations that are impossible to prove in order
to shift blame to others. The state that Moreira suspects
that he will be blamed for negligence once the ongoing
investigation of the mining accident is finally complete.

14. There is no way to know if the allegations by either side
are true since no one hope participated in or who may have
observed the meeting between Fox and Moreira can prove
anything. It is perhaps a measure of the former president,s
unpopularity that so many Mexican citizens are prepared to
believe that he knowingly committed a crime by attempting to
have false charges brought against a major labor leader.
Should the issue be pursued, the seriousness of the
accusation could present a significant problem because it is
unclear whether Mexico,s legal system has the tools to
conduct an investigation against a former president in the
absence of any clear and objective evidence of a crime.

15. It is also possible that this entire matter could also
involve both Canada and the US. It could involve Canada
because Gomez Urrutia is currently believed to be residing in
Vancouver. The US may become involved because the Pasta de
Conchos mining accident is a part of the submission submitted
to the US Department of Labor by the United Steelworkers
Union on behalf of the SNTMMSRN under the terms of NAFTA,s
North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation.


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GARZA

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