Search

 

Cablegate: Mission Mexico Continues to Montior Murder Of

VZCZCXRO8009
PP RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHM RUEHHO RUEHJO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHPOD
RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #2254/01 1272008
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 072008Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6776
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEHXI/LABOR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MEXICO 002254

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ELAB KFRD PGOV PHUM PINR CVIS MX
SUBJECT: MISSION MEXICO CONTINUES TO MONTIOR MURDER OF
LABOR ORGANIZER

REF: MONTERREY 0430 (NOTAL)

1. SUMMARY: Mission Mexico personnel have continued their
efforts to monitor the situation surrounding the recent
murder in Monterrey of agricultural worker labor union
organizer Santiago Rafael Cruz. Embassy Mexico City,s Labor
Counselor and AmConsul Monterrey,s Pol/Econ Officer visited
the FLOC (Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO) offices
and met with US and Mexican union representatives the week of
4/30 ) 5/4 to convey the USG,s interest in this case. The
FLOC representatives reiterated the union,s belief that
Rafael was murdered because of his organizing activities but
had no real idea as to who might have ordered his death. They
also outlined the latest efforts to press for a full
investigation into the slaying of their colleague. In
addition, the two officials also talked generally about the
FLOC,s successes in obtaining improved working conditions
for farm laborers. Throughout the meeting both FLOC
officials expressed their organization,s deep appreciation
for AmConsul Monterrey,s quick reaction and for Mission
Mexico,s sustained support as the union continues pressing
to learn what really happened to the murdered labor
organizer. FLOC and USG efforts notwithstanding, it is still
an open question as to whether the murder of Santiago Rafael
Cruz will ever be resolved. END SUMMARY.


BACKGROUND
----------

2. On April 9, 2007 Santiago Rafael Cruz, a farm worker
labor organizer employed by the Farm Labor Organizing
Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC), was found beaten to death in the
union,s offices in Monterrey, Mexico. Rafael,s job at the
FLOC office was primarily to advise farm laborers about legal
employment opportunities in the US with a focus on the H2A
"guest workers" program. As a FLOC employee Rafael also
investigated alleged abuses in labor recruiting agencies and
helped farm workers resolve grievances arising from their
employment conditions in the US. Although there is no
conclusive evidence linking anyone to the murder of Santiago
Rafael, the FLOC is convinced that he was murdered because
its organizing activities angered various labor recruiting
agencies and agricultural interests. The FLOC, and the
broader AFL-CIO, considers Rafael,s murder to be both a
human and labor rights issue.

3. In pursuing this matter the FLOC has met with labor
figures, business interests, government officials and elected
representatives in both Mexico and the US (Congresswoman
Marcy Kaptur, D-OH is particularly interested in this case)
to press for a full investigation of Rafael,s murder.
AmConsul Monterrey has worked closely with the FLOC,
supporting their calls for a thorough inquiry into this crime
and has met with the highest levels of both state and local
authorities to express the USG,s interest in resolving this
case. Consulate personnel in Monterrey have also fielded a
considerable number of inquiries on this matter both from the
public and from US and Mexican media outlets. Thus far it
appears that state and local authorities have been open and
honest in keeping AmConsul Monterrey abreast of the
developments of their ongoing investigation into the murder
of Santiago Rafael but there seems to be little real
progress. Monterrey is also now working closely with the
FLOC, local authorities and even labor recruiters to combat
any abuse or irregularities that may be surrounding the H2A
&guest workers8 program.


EXPRESSING THE USG,S CONTINUING INTEREST
----------------------------------------

4. As a follow-up to the ongoing USG actions reported in
Reftel, on May 2, Embassy Mexico City,s Labor Counselor and
AmConsul Monterrey,s Pol/Econ Officer called on the offices
of the FLOC to express Mission Mexico,s continuing concern
over the murder of labor organizer Santiago Rafael Cruz and
request an update on the union,s latest efforts in this
matters. Mission personnel were received by the FLOC,s main
Representative in Monterrey, Castulo Benavides Rodriguez, and
by Ken Barger, a union Community Organizer visiting from the
US. Benavides and Barger were unequivocal in expressing the
FLOC,s sincere thanks for AmConsul Monterrey,s quick
reaction in this situation and for Mission Mexico,s
sustained support as the union continues to push for a full
and complete investigation into what really happened to their
murdered colleague.

MEXICO 00002254 002 OF 003


FLOC OFFICIAL DISCUSS THE MURDER
--------------------------------

5. According to the two FLOC officials, the union was doing
all it could to press Monterrey area state and local
authorities to consider every possible facets of the case in
order to learn the truth about exactly what happened to
Santiago Rafael. The union, they said, was not just
interested in who actually killed the labor organizer, it
also wanted to know, and ultimately hold accountable, whoever
might be responsible for ordering the death of Santiago
Rafael. In fact, the union officials stated, as a part of
the ongoing effort to find out what happened to the murdered
labor organizer, FLOC Union President Baldemar Velasquez was
en route to Mexico City that very day (May 2) to meet with
federal GOM (law enforcement/public security) officials to
discuss the status of the case. They also indicated that the
FLOC Monterrey office was in the process of
reviewing/implementing a series of physical safety measures
and upgrades to better control access and improve the
security of union staff.

6. In response to direct questions from Mission Mexico
personnel the FLOC officials indicated that they had no new
information on the circumstances surround the slaying of
Santiago Rafael. Again, in response to a direct question,
they also admitted that they had received no direct threats
or warnings about their union organizing activities prior to
Rafael,s death. They also indicated that they had no real
idea of who might be responsible for the murder. This lack
of any clear idea of who might ultimately be responsible for
Rafael,s murder notwithstanding, the FLOC officials
underscored the union,s strong belief that their colleague
had been killed because of his labor organizing activities.

7. The two officials voiced dissatisfaction with the current
direction of the police investigation into Rafael,s death.
Unfortunately, the FLOC officials intimated, the police
appear to have pre-judged this case and concluded that
Rafael,s murder was the result of some type of personal
dispute (i.e., a jealous rival or the parents of girl who
disapproved of him dating their daughter). Consequently, in
FLOC,s view, the police have settled on this preconceived
conclusion to the near exclusion of any other possible motive
for Rafael,s murder.


FLOC OFFICIALS STATE THE UNION WILL NOT BE DETERRED
--------------------------------------------- ------

8. In addition to discussing their views on the status of
Santiago Rafael,s murder investigation, the two FLOC
officials also spoke generally about the union,s overall
goals and activities. They explained that the aim of FLOC,s
activities was to provide advice and assistance to farm
laborers to facilitate (preferably?) legal employment in the
US. As proof of the union,s effectiveness they cited two
FLOC successes (one actually and one potentially) that were
significantly improving conditions for farm laborers. The
first of these was a 2004 agreement with the &North Carolina
Growers Association8 to represent some 7,000 - 10,000
workers who annually travel to the state to harvest crops and
establishes a system for resolving labor disputes.

9. The second FLOC success, with potentially greater
consequences, was a recent ruling by a US Federal judge in
North Carolina which eliminated fees charged by labor
recruiters to find jobs in the US for farm laborers.
According to the FLOC officials, the basis of the ruling was
that it was illegal to charge farm workers (as many labor
recruiters frequently do) for services such as visa
processing, transportation and administrative overhead, which
had already been paid for by employers/growers in the US.
The FLOC officials indicated that the union hoped to use the
ruling in North Carolina as the basis for expanding similar
benefits to farm laborers in states like Kentucky, Florida,
Texas, California and others. The FLOC officials did not
specifically state what progress the union has made to date
in expanding the benefits of the North Carolina ruling to
places outside of that specific state. They did, however,
opine that the North Carolina ruling was costing labor
recruiters some USD 2 million per year in lost fees and
speculated that this loss of revenue could be a possible
motive for the murder of Santiago Rafael.


MEXICO 00002254 003 OF 003


10. In the discussion of the FLOC,s overall program
initiatives Labor Counselor asked if the union had considered
coordinating its activities with those of the GOM,s Labor
Secretariat (STPS). The FLOC officials indicated that they

SIPDIS
have had no real contact with Mexican government officials
(other than law enforcement officers). Labor Counselor
provided the FLOC office with a point of contact in the STPS,
specifically that Ministry,s Sub-Secretary for Employment
and Labor Policy, one of whose responsibilities was
overseeing the smooth (i.e. legal) operation of employment
programs. The union officials seemed to conclude that the
services of this STPS office could be helpful in
disseminating information about FLOC,s programs and might
also be a value asset in cracking down on abuse labor
recruiters.


COMMENT
-------

11. The FLOC officials were clearly not satisfied with the
efforts of the Monterrey area police authorities,
investigation into the death of labor organizer Santiago
Rafael Cruz. In sharp contrast, they seemed very pleased
with the proactive support the union has received from
Mission Mexico personnel, particular the staff at AmConsul
Monterrey. The frustration of the FLOC officials in this
unresolved murder case is understandable. Despite its
physical proximity to the US and the progress Mexico is
making in many social, political and economic areas, some of
its institutions are not progressing as well as the Mexicans
themselves would like. Police forces often fall into this
category. Many admit that police authorities are hampered by
(among other serious problems) scant resources and inadequate
training. In short, even when there is a real will to find
those responsible, owing to institutional limitations, it is
an open question as to whether the murder of Santiago Rafael
Cruz will ever be solved.

12. This message was cleared with AmConsul Monterrey.


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
BASSETT

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

New IPCC Report: ‘Unprecedented Changes’ Needed To Limit Global Warming

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require “far-reaching and unprecedented changes,” such as ditching coal for electricity to slash carbon emissions, says a special report that finds some of the actions needed are already under way, but the world must move faster… More>>

ALSO:

Jamal Khashoggi: UK, France, Germany Join Calls For Credible Investigation

Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. More>>

ALSO:

MSF Not Wanted: Nauru Government Shows Continued Callousness

The Nauruan Government’s decision to ask Doctors Without Borders to immediately leave shows continued callousness towards asylum seekers desperately seeking a safe place to call home, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said today. More>>

ALSO:

Sulawesi Quake, Tsunami: Aid Response Begins

Oxfam and its local partners are standing by to deploy emergency staff and resources to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, as an estimated 1.5 million people are thought to be affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit on Friday. More>>

ALSO:

Decriminalising Same-Sex Relationships: UN Rights Chief Applauds Indian Decision

“This is a great day for India and for all those who believe in the universality of human rights," Bachelet said. "With this landmark decision, the Indian Supreme Court has taken a big step forward for freedom and equality...” More>>

ALSO: