Support Edur Velasco Arregui!

Against the Current, No. 167, November/December 2013

Richard Roman

MY COLLEAGUE AND co-researcher, Mexican intellectual and trade union activist Edur Velasco Arregui, has been expelled for political reasons from the SNI (National System of Researchers) in Mexico. This expulsion has many severe consequences for Edur (financial, job security, and health coverage) and is part of the effort of the Mexican government to intimidate those who oppose by actions as well as words its authoritarian, repressive and neoliberal path. {Note: This ATC issue contains a review by Dan L Botz of two books on Mexico, one of which is Continental Crucible, co-authored by Richard Roman and Edur Velasco Arregui.}

Edur’s history of opposition to the regime, his academic record, and circumstances surrounding the case are presented in the statement “Political Retaliation against a Mexican Intellectual: The Case of Dr. Edur Velasco Arregui,” which begins:

Edur Velasco Arregui, a distinguished Mexican academic (Professor of Labor Economics and of Labor Law at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana — UAM) and trade union activist, has been purged from his position in the National System of Researchers (SNI). This purge is part of a broader repression by the Mexican regime, a repression that ranges from attempts to purge left academics and left programs at universities to imprisonment, disappearances and violence against journalists, environmentalists, indigenous activists, and trade unionists. Edur, at various times, has suffered most of these forms of repression, disappeared by the military for 21 days in 1978, being shot in 1982 while on a picket line, and now purged from SNI. This reprisal against Professor Velasco Arregui is taking place during a period in which Dr. Velasco Arregui’s health is frail as he is still recovering from the effects of  a  six week hunger strike during the fall of 2011 in front of the Bolsa Mexicana de Valores (Mexican Stock Exchange) to protest major cuts in governmental support for public universities, a hunger strike supported by his union (SITUAM — (Sindicato Independiente de Trabajadores de la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana — Independent Union of Workers of the Metropolitan Autonomous University) and the “Ocupa la Bolsa” movement, a movement stimulated by and in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Signers of the support letter include José Raúl Vera López (Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico), Noam Chomsky (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Dan La Botz (editor, Mexican Labor News and Analysis), Porfirio Muñoz Ledo (Mexico’s Secretary of Labor from 1972-1975 and Mexico’s UN Ambassador 1978-1985), Leo Panitch (Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science, York University), Alejandro Encinas (Mexican Senator), Stephanie Ross (President, Canadian Association for Work and Labour Studies), Enrique C. Ochoa (Professor of History and Latin American Studies at California State University, Los Angeles), Sam Gindin (former chief economist and assistant to the President of the Canadian Auto Workers), Jeffery R. Webber (Senior Lecturer, School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary, University of London), Greg Albo (Professor, Political Science, York University, co-editor, Socialist Register), Sue Ferguson (Coordinator, Journalism Program, Wilfred Laurier University), Teresa Healy (Adjunct Research Professor. Institute of Political Economy, Carleton University), and David McNally (Professor, Political Science, York University).

To sign the open letter, email, providing your institutional affiliation, profession or other identification. We will indicate that institutions are for identification purposes only. We will present the letter to:

Dra. Julia Tagüeña Parga [Directora Adjunta de Desarrollo Científico, Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (Deputy Director of Scientific Development, National Council for Science and Technology)]

José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, Secretario de Relaciones Exteriores de Mexico [Mexican Foreign Minister]

November/December 2013, ATC 167


  1. We are writing to thank you for your help. Dr. Edur Velasco Arregui, Professor of Political Economy and Law at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City was reinstated to the SNI (National System of Researchers) in Mexico. His expulsion, presented with academic rationales, was a political decision based on his trade union and political activities. It was part of the continuing policies of repression on the part of the Mexican government against dissent and opposition.

    The reversal of the decision came after an extraordinary delay, an indication that much more was involved than academic review. The 200 signatures from scholars, intellectuals and activists from all parts of the world, including you, made it clear to the decision-makers that they couldn’t quietly carry out this purge. We have included the full list of signers with this letter.

    We won this battle thanks to your support. This victory has been crucial for Edur, both personally and politically. It allows for the continuation of his research activities and the regime may be more cautious in its harassment of Edur.

    But the repression, both selective and general, goes on against journalists, intellectuals and workers who challenge the Mexican regime. Accounts of this repression against working people can be found in the current issue (Spring 2014) of NACLA Report on the Americas – “Mexico: The State Against the Working Class” –edited by Edur and myself ( . La lucha sigue.

    Thank you again for your solidarity.

    Richard Roman

    Co-author (with Edur Velasco Arregui) of Continental Crucible: Big Business, Workers and Unions in the Transformation of North America (2013) []

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