Latino Farm Labor Leaders Slam Bush Administration Pressures on Mexico to Secure Pro-War Vote at UN Security Council


The following press release is being faxed out widely by the San Francisco Labor Council to all the major media in the United States and Mexico this morning (March 10). We would appreciate your help in forwarding this release to all media outlets in your cities and countries. Call your local papers and urge them to run this story. For further information, please contact Amy Newell (U.S. Labor Against the War) and/or Alan Benjamin (San Francisco Labor Council) at the numbers listed below.

Contact Persons:

Amy Newell: 831-728-4922
U.S. Labor Against the War
West Coast Office
745 Green Valley Road
Watsonville, CA 95076
www.uslaboragainstwar.org

Alan Benjamin (bilingual): 415-626-1175
San Francisco Labor Council, OWC Continuations Committee
1188 Franklin St., #203, San Francisco, CA 94109.
email: ilcinfo@earthlink.net
Phone: (415) 641-8616 Fax: (415) 440-9297.
www.owcinfo.org

WATSONVILLE, Calif.—Leaders of the nation’s main farm labor organizations, representing immigrant farm workers from Mexico in the United States, sent a letter today to President George Bush expressing their “outrage over the heavy-handed tactics” employed by the Bush administration against the government of Mexico in an attempt to secure its agreement with the Bush plan for waging war on Iraq.

In their letter, Dolores Huerta, cofounder, along with Cesar Chavez, of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW); Arturo Rodriguez, president of the UFW; and Baldemar Velasquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, also tell Bush they oppose this war “because you have not made your case to the citizens of the United States or of the world that it is necessary.”

The Bush administration has announced that it will seek a second UN vote in the UN Security Council early this week aimed at obtaining a mandate for waging a war against Iraq in the event Iraq does not “fully disarm its weapons of mass destruction” by a March 17 deadline. The governments of France, Russia, and China have expressed their strong opposition to this U.S.-British March 17 deadline and have indicated they would veto any resolution that would result in a military attack, calling instead for more time to allow the UN inspectors to do their job.

Mexico and four other countries in the UN Security Council have not expressed any indication as to how they will vote. In recent weeks, President Fox of Mexico has stated his government’s strong opposition to any resolution that would legitimize a U.S.-led war in Iraq. But under intense pressure from the Bush administration, which has sent numerous high-level delegations to Mexico, more recent statements by Mexican government officials have been less categorical, giving rise to heightened concerns across Mexico’s diverse political spectrum that a “no” vote by Mexico on the U.S.-British proposal is by no means a certainty. Popular sentiment across Mexico is strongly opposed to war in Iraq, with up to 80% opposing a U.S.-led military assault.

In their March 10 letter, the farm labor leaders chastise the Bush administration for “acting like a bully against another sovereign nation.” Their letter quotes a high-level Mexican diplomat who told the media, “U.S. State Department officials actually told us that any country that doesn’t go along with the United States ‘will be paying a very heavy price.’”

The labor leaders proclaim: “Our government cannot claim to be fighting for democracy in Iraq while at the same time demanding that the government of Mexico support a war without the consent and against the will of its own citizens.”

Expressing a view that is gaining ground within the U.S. trade union movement—including within the national leadership of the AFL-CIO, which on February 27 adopted a statement opposing Bush’s unilateral war on Iraq—the labor leaders conclude: “We oppose this war because you have not made your case to the citizens of the U.S. or of the world that it is necessary. We oppose this war in the name of democracy and we ask you to respect democracy and national sovereignty not only in our country but in all other countries, including Mexico.”

The three signatories of the letter are supporters of U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW), a committee founded in Chicago in January by labor organizations with more than two million members. USLAW now reports that labor organizations representing more than one-third of all organized workers have gone on record against war in Iraq. USLAW recently released a declaration demanding a peaceful resolution in Iraq that was endorsed by trade union federations and unions from 53 countries representing 130 million organized workers.

To contact the signatories of this letter to Bush for their comments, call:

Dolores Huerta at: 510-663-2165
Baldemar Velasquez at: 419-243-3456
Arturo Rodriguez at: 661-725-9730


ATTACHED LETTER TO GEORGE BUSH

March 10, 2003

George W. Bush,
President
United States of America
1800 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C.

Dear President Bush:

As Latino leaders of farm labor organizations representing immigrant workers from Mexico, their families, and retirees, we write to say that we are outraged by the heavy-handed tactics that your administration is employing against the government of Mexico in an attempt to secure its agreement with your plan for waging war on Iraq.

An Associated Press article by Dafna Linzer said that Mexican diplomats described the visits from U.S. State Dept. officials as “hostile in tone” and complained that Washington was demonstrating “little concern for the constraints on the Mexican government, whose people are overwhelmingly opposed to a war with Iraq.” “They actually told us,” said one Mexican diplomat, “that any country that doesn’t go along with the U.S. ‘will be paying a very heavy price.’”

Our members do not want their government to act like a bully against another sovereign nation.

Our government cannot claim to be fighting for democracy in Iraq while at the same time demanding that the government of Mexico support a war without the consent and against the will of its own citizens.

We oppose this war because you have not made your case to the citizens of the U.S. or of the world that it is necessary. We oppose it in the name of democracy and we ask you to respect democracy and national sovereignty not only in our country but in all other countries, including Mexico.

Sincerely,

Dolores Huerta,
Co-Founder (with César Chávez),
United Farm Workers of America
(AFL-CIO)

Arturo Rodriguez,
President,
United Farm Workers of America
(AFL-CIO)

Baldemar Velasquez,
President,
Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC)
(AFL-CIO)

cc: Vicente Fox, President
Republic of Mexico