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Cablegate: Dissident Pemex Workers Seek to Overturn Year Old

VZCZCXRO2955
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHM RUEHHO RUEHJO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD
RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #5720/01 2792157
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 062157Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3577
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEHXI/LABOR COLLECTIVE
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 005720

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR DRL, WHA/MEX, WHA/PPC; USDOL FOR ILAB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ECON PGOV PHUM MX
SUBJECT: DISSIDENT PEMEX WORKERS SEEK TO OVERTURN YEAR OLD
UNION ELECTION


-----------
SUMMARY
-----------

1. A dissident faction of MexicoQs Petroleum Workers
Union is trying to overturn the October 2005 re-election
of union Secretary General Carlos Romero Deschamps. The
re-election of Romero Deschamps means that he will head
the Oil WorkersQ Union from 2007-2012. According to the
dissidents, Romero DeschampsQ re-election as union
Secretary General was in blatant violation of numerous

SIPDIS
union rules. The dissidentsQ appeals to the Mexican
GovernmentQs Labor Secretariat (STPS) to overturn the
election have been declined. According to STPS, it has no
legal authority to interfere in an internal union matter.
The next step for the dissidents is to seek redress from
MexicoQs Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Council. At
present, it seems unlikely that RomeroQs re-election will
be overturned. Nevertheless, this dispute will
undoubtedly carry over from the outgoing Fox
administration, to the incoming Calderon administration.
The situation bears watching given the large US purchases
of Mexican petroleum products. End Summary.


----------------------------
An Unusually Early Election
----------------------------

2. In October of 2005, the Executive Committee of
MexicoQs Petroleum WorkersQ Union (Sindicato de
Trabajadores Petroleros de la Republica Mexicana - STPRM)
held an 'Extraordinary Convention' to elect a replacement
for union leader Secretary General Carlos Romero
Deschamps. An election to replace an outgoing union
leader would not normally be an extraordinary event but in
this case Romero Deschamps still had over a year in
office. Moreover, STPRM rules specifically state that
elections for a new Secretary General are to be held in
the last three months of the current leaderQs mandate.

3. It is unclear what prompted the need for this early
election. Conjecture voiced by a dissident faction of the
STPRM, known as the National Alliance of Petroleum
Workers, claims Romero DeschampsQ early re-election was
prompted by the fear of a PRD victory in MexicoQs 2006
presidential campaign. In October 2005, PRD presidential
candidate Lopez Obrador looked to be the sure winner in
the race to become MexicoQs next president. A PRD
presidential win would have given that party the power to
confirm the results of the union election. Consequently,
according to the dissidents, the union establishment
wanted to ensure its continued control of the organization
and therefore moved forward the election of the next
Secretary General in order to present the GOM with a fait

SIPDIS
accompli.

-------------------------------
Allegations and Irregularities
-------------------------------

4. Given that STPRM statues call for the election of a new
Secretary General no more than three months before the end

SIPDIS
of the current union leaderQs term of office it appears
strange indeed that an extraordinary convention was called
long established and widely accepted syndicate. Romero
DeschampsQ re-election was further complicated by his
alleged involvement with the 'Pemexgate' scandal in which
large amounts of union funds were illegally diverted to
the campaign of the PRI political partyQs presidential
nominee. STPRM rules state that a person charged with a
crime cannot stand for union office and at the time of his
re-election a formal warrant had been issued for RomeroQs
arrest. (Note: The warrant was never carried out thanks to
a legal injunction filed by RomeroQs attorney. The charges
against him were not dropped until July of 2006.)

5. According to one of Mexico CityQs major daily
newspapers, Excelsior, there were a total of eight serious
irregularities in Romero DeschampsQ re-election as STPRM
Secretary General. A partial list of these irregularities

SIPDIS
included such things as claiming that the stated purpose
of the 'extraordinary convention' was to select
replacements for several positions that were vacant at
that time. Initially no mention was made of was of a plan
to elect a new Secretary General. Excelsior calms that all
of the persons allowed to vote at the convention were
handpicked friends of Romero. Numerous GOM Secretariat of

MEXICO 00005720 002 OF 002


Labor officials were at the convention in violation of ILO
convention #87. Romero Deschamps himself presided over
the entire process of the convention in which he was re-
elected union Secretary General which, from start to
finish, was completed in a record three and one half
hours.

------------------------------------
Labor Secretariat Claims Neutrality
------------------------------------

6. Many of the irregularities involved in RomeroQs re-
election might well have been dismissed as press
speculation except for the fact that Excelsior claims it
obtained a copy of the minutes taken at the extraordinary
convention. The authenticity of the minutes has not been
disputed by the Secretariat of Labor (STPS). Moreover,
the Secretariat has gone out of it way to publicly claim
its neutrality on the question RomeroQs re-election.
STPSQ position on the topic of Romero, to both Excelsior
and the dissident oil workers that have asked for the
annulment of the Secretary GeneralQs re-election is that
the entire matter is an internal union affair. Moreover,
a Labor Secretariat spokesman stated, changes to union
rules previously enacted by the STPRM allowed the
organization to advance the date of RomeroQs re-election.
Consequently, the STPS says, it has no legal authority to
change the results of these internal rule or the process
of electing a new union Secretary General.


--------------------------------------------- -
Dissents Not Yet Prepared to Give-up the Fight
--------------------------------------------- -

7. The next step for the dissent oil workers is to seek
redress from MexicoQs Federal Conciliation and Arbitration
Council. Unlike the STSP, the Council does appear to have
the legal authority to overturn Romero DeschampsQ re-
election. The appeal to the council is being prepared for
the dissidents by CEREAL QCentro de Reflexion y Accion
Laboral (Center for Reflection and Labor Action). CEREAL
is a Mexico City based NGO labor and human rights
organization affiliated with Jesuits and the Center for
Justice and International Law in Washington, DC. Thus far
there is no indication that the Council will rush the
dissents case to the top of its agenda which means the
matter will not be resolved one way of the other before
the December inauguration on recently elected president,
Felipe Calderon.

--------
Comment
--------

8. By all accounts the dissidentsQ efforts to oust Carlos
Romero Deschamps have been going on almost since his re-
election. The Labor Secretariat under outgoing Mexican
President Vicente Fox has successfully kept the matter at
arms-length by claiming it a lack of legal authority to
interfere in an internal union matter. That said, the Fox
administration tacitly endorsed RomeroQs re-election when
it sent two cabinet level Secretaries (Labor and
Government) to his swearing-in ceremony.

9. At this point it seems unlikely that any branch or
agency of the Mexican government will overturn Romero
DeschampsQ re-election as the head of the Oil Workers
Union. Moreover, outside of the dissidents, most petroleum
works seem satisfied with the fact that their union, even
with what appears to be some genuine internal problems,
still has obtained perhaps the most generous labor
contracts in Mexico.

10. On the surface all appears well, but there is a
history of labor actions in Mexico that have started small
and unexpectedly grown larger and more intractable than
most observers could have imagined. Although this
situation is unlikely to follow that route, it
nevertheless bears watching since there is no sure way of
knowing what approach the incoming Mexican government
administration will take to labor issues. Given the large
US purchases of Mexican petroleum products, potential
labor unrest in the countryQs oil industry is a subject we
need to track.

GARZA

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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