Earlier this month, magistrates of the Electoral Tribunal held an audience with leaders of the National Union of Mining, Metallurgy, Steelmaking and Similar Workers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSSRM) after the court sentenced the union leader Napoleón Gómez to return US$54 million to workers. Gómez is known for having fled to Canada with his family in 2006 after an explosion in a mine in San Juan de Sabinas, Coahuila left 65 miners dead. He was accused of having diverted funds from the workers, according to El Universal.
The legal case began in 2006 but was brought to light again after AMLO made headlines in February 2018 for including Gómez on his list of non-elected congressmen of the Morena party, headed by Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). In May, Carlos Pavón, leader of the National Mining Metallurgical Union (SNMM) spoke out against the candidacy of rival mining union leader.
Reforma Laboral – Centro de Estudios Parlamentarios – Colegio Civil pic.twitter.com/Q1DNzmb5Uf
— Napoleón Gómez Urrutia (@NapoleonGomezUr) 10 de mayo de 2018
The first time the case was presented to a judge in 2014, it was thrown out as the court ruled there was insufficient proof, reported MVSNoticias. But the case was brought to light again thanks to AMLO’s inclusion of Gómez in his shortlist. The second time around the Federal Labor Board ordered Gómez to return US$54 million to the 300 affected members of the union, reported Reforma in May 2018.
His role as leader of the National Union of Mining, Metallurgy, Steelmaking and Similar Workers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSSRM) was passed down from his father, Napoleón Gómez Sada, who led the union for 40 years, explains El Sol De Mexico. After he passed away in 1999, his son assumed his role, officially taking the position in 2002 and was re-elected in 2008.
According to Huffington Post, in 1999 Grupo México bought Mexicana de Cananea, a subsidiary that operates the Buenavista del Cobre copper mine. As part of the agreement, Grupo México agreed to offer SNTMMSSRM a 5 percent share in the company. But a legal process was initiated in 2006 against Gómez after union members failed to receive their share of the US$55 million dollars that Grupo México deposited into a trust fund, stated Huffington Post.
“Fifty-five million dollars is a lot of money and we knew that the money was deposited into a new account that was created by the union,” stated Pavón. “Then we found out that the money no longer existed and that it was for the union and not the workers. This provoked of a series of legal and labor issues. An audit was completed that stated that the use of the trust fund was not adequate and (Gómez) has still not clarified the matter to the workers that feel they have a right to the money.”
At the moment, Gómez still wants to be one of the non-elected congressmen list for Morena. “Other unions have expressed discomfort with this and we will follow suit as it is not possible that someone that states that he is against corruption will allow someone like (Gómez) to stand as Senator,” stated Pavón.
AMLO responded through his Twitter account in February 2018. “I have always been against retaliation made by those in power,” he wrote. “Napoleón G Urrutia has been chased and stigmatized by official and unofficial propaganda.” Following this statement the presidential candidate attached a link to an article written by Pedro Miguel, which states that Napoleón has been persecuted by various Mexican Presidents due to his defense of metallurgical workers, as well as claims against Grupo México and authorities in the federal government.
Siempre he estado en contra de represalias tomadas desde el poder.
Napoleón G. Urrutia ha sido perseguido y estigmatizando por propaganda oficial y oficiosa
— Andrés Manuel (@lopezobrador_) 19 de febrero de 2018