The legacy of La Quina

The Economist, 11/13/2013

justice - gavel and bookThe arrest in January 1989 of Joaquín Hernández Galicia, the veteran head of the oil-workers’ union, was played up for maximum dramatic effect because it was meant to be opening salvo of a tireless crusade for economic modernisation in Mexico. It pitted a new, weakly supported president, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, against one of the symbols of the corrupt old Mexico that he was trying to reform.

Almost 25 years later, Mr Hernández, known as La Quina, has died aged 91 after being freed from jail in 1997 under an amnesty. It must have been a great comfort to him in his old age that Mr Salinas, in exile at the time of his release, still rarely returns to Mexico. It is perhaps fitting that Mr Hernández has died just as the government is embarking on a reform of the oil industry whose monopoly—which he milked for his own benefit for several decades until his arrest—he fought tooth and nail to protect. It has given him a grave in which to turn in.

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Pemex “lends” 500 million pesos to oil workers’ union (Spanish)

PemexReforma, 2/14/2013

Pemex recently allowed the Oil Workers Union of Mexico, headed by Carlos Romero Deschamps, to borrow 500 million pesos to be paid back in ten years at no interest.

Although Pemex wished to maintain this information secret until January 2021, REFORMA acquired Union Administrative Council document 10614 which describes that the resources were handed to the organization on December 8th, 2011 for the purpose of “building houses.”

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Mexico’s ‘eternal’ labor leaders survive reform

Business Week, 10/23/2012


Labor activists said Monday that the re-election of Mexico’s two most powerful union bosses throws into doubt whether the country can really democratize its autocratic, corrupt union groups, as the government has proposed.

The heads of the Oil Workers Union, Carlos Romero Deschamps, and of Mexico’s largest teachers’ union, Elba Esther Gordillo, were elected to new six-year terms over the weekend. Both have held the tops spots in their unions since the early 1990s.

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