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Police Remove Workers Occupying Ford Plant

January 23, 1990

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Authorities persuaded dissident workers occupying a Ford assembly plant outside the capital to leave Monday, and officials said two union leaders were charged in an attack that killed one worker and halted production.

Workers at the Ford Motor Co. plant at Cuautitlan, 15 miles to the north, blame the attack two weeks ago on union leader Hector Uriarte. They accuse him of being pro-management and allege the Mexican Labor Federation put him in office after a fraudulent election.

The state of Mexico’s attorney general, Humberto Benitez, said Monday a warrant has been issued for Uriarte’s arrest charging him with masterminding the violence. The state of Mexico abuts the federal district that incorporates much of metropolitan Mexico City.

Workers left peacefully when ordered out by the assistant attorney general of the state of Mexico, Roberto Pineda Gomez, the Excelsior news service said.

It was not clear when employees will return to work, and there was no immediate comment from Ford. A complaint filed by Ford prompted the eviction, state of Mexico spokesman Cesar Silva said.

The plant, which makes 450 cars and trucks a day for the Mexican market, closed Jan. 8 when from 150 to 250 thugs entered the plant and shot and beat workers as they arrived for the morning shift.

Ten workers were injured; one died two days later.

Ford shut down production, saying there was no security for workers.

About 1,500 workers occupied the plant, 15 miles north of Mexico City, saying they were protecting installations and the plant’s 3,800 jobs, and demanding Uriarte’s ouster.

When police arrived at 5 a.m. Monday, about 300 workers were at the plant, Excelsior said.

″I come in the name of the law and accompanied by the public force 3/8 Workers, I ask you to voluntarily turn over the installations you have illegally occupied 3/8″ Pineda yelled to workers over a bullhorn.

He told them Jose Guadalupe Uribe Guevara, union leader of a minibus line that brought thugs in for the attack, and nine others had been arrested and charged in the attack, Excelsior said. The charges include homicide, assault and weapons violations.

Workers applauded but urged that Uriarte also be arrested.

Uriarte was working at Mexican Labor Confederation headquarters in Mexico City on Monday morning, said Fidel Velazquez, head of the organization to which the Ford union belongs. Velazquez said he had not heard about the warrant.

A complaint filed by Ford over workers’ occupation of the plant prompted the eviction, state of Mexico spokesman Cesar Silva said.

Workers at Ford plants in the northern cities of Hermosillo and Chihuahua, who belong to the same union, have not been involved in the dispute.