Mourning a comrade in Mexico

July 18, 2016

Teachers and community members on strike in defense of public education in Oaxaca, Mexico, have borne the brunt of an epidemic of state-directed violence, including the killing of nine people by federal police on June 19 during teachers' union-initiated protests. The U.S. government stands implicated for providing millions of dollars to Mexico's corrupt police and military forces--Barack Obama will welcome current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to the White House on July 22 to further bilateral relations. /

The Mexico Electrical Workers Union (SME) has long stood in the forefront of opposition to neoliberal privatization which is at the heart of the attack on teachers. Now, one of the union's leading activists, Marco “Toño” Antonio García Barrera, has been murdered under suspicious circumstances in the state of Morelos, just south of Mexico City. Here we publish an appeal from union and community activists requesting international support for their demand that their murdered colleague's death be investigated by the state and those responsible be brought to justice.

On behalf of the SME [Mexican Electrical Workers Union], the OPT [People and Workers Political Organization] and the ANUEE [National Assembly of Electrical Energy Consumers of Morelos] in the state of Morelos, we hope you will help us circulate the following message regarding the murder of our comrade Marco "Toño" Antonio García Barrera.

This statement contains all the details we know at this time. We ask all international comrades to publicize this statement and bring it to the attention of unions and community organizations you work with in order to amplify our demand that the government of [the central Mexican state of] Morelos investigate this barbaric act. The OPT will publicize all such efforts in our official channels of communication.

WE DEMAND justice for the insidious murder of our colleague Marco Antonio García Barrera!

On July 12, 2016, our compañero Toño was the victim of a terrible crime in the environs of Calera Chica, in the municipality of Zapata near Jiutepec in the state of Morelos. We are outraged by this crime, and we demand that the authorities of the state of Morelos conduct a thorough investigation to ascertain the facts that led to the taking of the life of our dear friend. Those responsible for this crime must not enjoy impunity. We vehemently demand that the perpetrators of this terrible murder be apprehended and justice be done for the relatives of comrade Toño.

Marco “Toño” Antonio García Barrera
Marco “Toño” Antonio García Barrera

Our comrade Toño dedicated a lifetime of struggle to our cause; he fought for justice and the rights of the working class. His example of commitment and dedication to the cause will be remembered by those who met him over the years.

He spared no time or effort to take on tasks demanded of him by the union and in the social and political struggles of the working class. That is why he was recognized by members of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) who selected him to serve as a member of the union's organizing subcommittee on several occasions between 2002 and 2014.

For instance, he served as the undersecretary of labor for the Cuernavaca Division during the period when President Felipe Calderón's criminal government ordered the illegal closure of the Luz y Fuerza del Centro utility company, firing more than 44,000 workers. During this struggle, Toño faced trumped-up criminal charges for kidnapping because he spearheaded protests of Federal Electrical Commission plans and occupations of its facilities.

Even to this day, the office of the attorney general held these charges over Toño's head. Unbowed, he faced down these threats, despite suffering ill health as a result of years of being unemployed and trying to scrape by without a job. Starting in 2014, he took on the post of general vice secretary for the union during difficult years of struggle and resistance.

His class consciousness kept him fighting until the day that the cowards took his life. He served as an organizer and representative for the National Assembly of Electrical Energy Consumers in Morelos (ANUEE-Morelos) and as a state delegate to the National Council of the People and Workers Political Organization (OPT).

We know that there is nothing anyone can do to bring our comrade in struggle back to life, but his example strengthens our commitment to hold high the flags of justice and social emancipation, banners that he dedicated his life to keeping aloft. We pay a tribute to his memory and will not stop demanding an end to the violence we are suffering--directly today in Morelos as well as across the country--violence that has stolen the life of one of our beloved comrades.

We offer our warmest embrace to all of Toño García Barrera's family members and remind them that they are not alone. We are committed to continue the fight until we finally achieve justice.

The flags we raise in struggle are a symbol of mourning for our dear friend Toño. You know that we will continue your fight: ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME-Cuernavaca Division)
National Assembly of Electrical Energy Consumers of Morelos (ANUEE-Morelos)
National Political Council of the People and Workers Political Organization (DPN-OPT)
People and Workers Political Organization-Morelos (OPT-Morelos)
Independent Commission on Human Rights of Morelos
Morelos Pact for Food and Energy Sovereignty

Translated by Luis Guillermo Rangel Rojas of the Revolutionary Workers Party of Mexico (PRT).

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