February 26, 2011

USW Celebrates Release of Linares from Imprisonment in Mexico

From United Steel Workers

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomed the release from jail today of Juan Linares Montufar, a union leader of the National Mexican Mine and Metal Workers Union – also called Los Mineros – who had been unjustly imprisoned since December 3, 2008.

Linares's unconditional release follows a week of union protests at Mexican embassies and consulates in more than 40 countries, including 17 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

"This is a tremendous victory for international trade union solidarity," said USW President Leo W. Gerard. Steelworkers in the U.S. and Canada have lobbied for Linares's release and provided support to his family.

"The unlawful detention of Juan Linares is a gross human rights violation that has brought shame and disgrace on the Mexican government," Gerard said. "We hope that Juan's release means that the Calderon administration will now drop all charges against the union's leader, Napoleon Gomez, and end its campaign of persecution against Los Mineros, the mine and metalworkers union."

Gerard adds that the Mexican government's authorities are not to be absolved, and the USW will demand reparations for Linares and his family. "As a union leader and a prisoner of conscience, we give tribute to his courage and heroism in standing up for his union."

Mexican prosecutors dropped bank fraud charges against Linares, the President of the union's Justice and Oversight Commission, after the former union members who originally made the fraud accusation withdrew it. German Larrea, the owner of the Grupo Mexico mining company - which has waged a five-year assault on the mineworkers union - had been ordered to appear as a witness March 2 in Linares's case.

The release of Linares comes as Mexican President Felipe Calderon is to meet with President Obama in Washington on March 3.

A fact sheet on the charges and imprisonment in Mexico of Juan Linares Montufar is available at: www.usw.org/.

Contact: Ben Davis, 412-562-2501 (O); 202-550-3729 (C); bdavis@usw.org

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