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MEXICAN AUTHORITIES DETAIN TRADE UNIONISTS

 ANAHEIM, Calif., Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Mexican immigration authorities detained for more than three hours, 38 American and Canadian citizens who had come to Tijuana to study the effects that a NAFTA agreement would have on their jobs.
 One member of the delegation from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), is a Maryland state legislator and chair of the Maryland General Assembly's Black Caucus.
 IAM President George J. Kourpias strongly objected to their treatment by the Mexican government and demanded an apology.
 "This flagrant attempt by Mexican officials to harass visitors who clearly were not in violation of any laws, is an outrageous act against common decency," he said. "Clearly these modern day international robber barons are frightened of what visitors will see."
 Mexican federal government officials who identified themselves as being immigration authorities told the delegation who were seated on a bus outside of a maquiladora plant, that they were being detained.
 Pat Ziska, special assistant to IAM President Kourpias and a participant in the maquiladora tour, reports that the bus driver was ordered to drive to an area near the border. Repeated attempts to learn why the group was being detained were rebuffed. Mexican authorities also refused to allow phone calls to the American consul in Tijuana. For much of the time the delegation was forbidden to leave the bus and treated as criminals.
 Mexican authorities boarded the bus and demanded that each person show identification, including addresses and ages.
 The driver had obtained his Mexican permit upon entering the country. After nearly three hours, the visitors were told variously that they were violating Mexican law by not notifying border officials that they planned to visit a maquiladora area, then were told later that the violation was "discussing internal working conditions with Mexican workers." Still later they were told that what they were accused of was not illegal, but "irregular."
 The delegation was part of an IAM group meeting in Anaheim, and were dispatched to Tijuana on a fact-finding mission to determine the conditions workers are forced to endure in the maquiladora programs.
 Maquiladora corporations owned by U.S. and other multinationals operate along the border in the same way that such giant conglomerates will operate throughout Mexico if NAFTA is approved.
 The immigration agents admitted they held the IAM American and Canadian citizens at the request of the owners of maquiladora factories.
 The 38 visitors included John Jefferies, a member of the Maryland House of Delegates.
 Visitors found that workers employed by the U.S. multinationals worked for less than $7 per day and lived in abject poverty in slums polluted by the surrounding high-tech plants.
 -0- 9/22/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: IAM President George Kourpias will be available for phone interviews from 8 a.m. until noon PDT. Phone: 714-740-4460./
 /CONTACT: Jim Conley or Pat Ziska of IAM, 714-740-4460/


CO: International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers ST: California IN: ARO SU:

JL -- NYON1 -- 4456 09/22/93 04:46 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 22, 1993
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