Monday 11 November 2013

Mexican oil union boss dead at 91: thanked cartel leader for saving life from government killers

A long life
Joaquín Hernández Galicia “La Quina” the, 91-year-old former Pemex Union leader, has died in a hospital in Tampico, Tamaulipas.

Only last month Hernández Galicia told the Mexican press that it was thanks to psychopathic killer Caro Quintero, erstwhile leader of the Guadalajara Cartel, that his life was saved in prison. Caro Quintero was recently released on a technicality and now has a $5 million US government bounty on his head, with Mexico’s Supreme Court reversing the lower court decision that resulted in his release.

Hernández Galicia served nine years of a thirty year prison sentence after then president Carlos Salina de Gortari, considered one of the most corrupt politicians in the history of Mexico, ordered his capture on January 10, 1989, on charges of murder and firearms possession. He was released in 1997.

“I came out of jail after nine years, and then was exiled for two and half years, with five attempts on my life,” he said. “And who saved me from those assassinations? The narcos made sure I wasn’t killed. Caro Quintero, who is now free, instructed his people to stop others from killing me, and it’s thanks to him I am still alive.”

Hernández Galicia was interviewed while travelling in a vehicle with his son, Joaquín Hernández Correa, in Tampico, Tamaulipas. When asked by the reporter if this meant that he was allied with the drug cartels, the son, a local politician, interjected with a “No!” before his elderly father could respond.

But his father then replied: “I am only saying that they stopped others from killing me. This isn’t foolish talk. It is thanks to them that the government didn’t get me.”

The ex-union boss had been reaching out to the media to help him come to an agreement with the governor of Tamaulipas, Egidio Torre Cantú, in the hopes that he could recover three billion pesos (about $227 million) in union trust accounts that have been frozen by the banks.

In the 20th century Mexican unions were controlled by the ruling PRI and its client leftist parties as a Soviet-style system to ensure political hegemony. The result was rampant corruption, with periodic efforts by the political class to reign in the excesses of union bosses. This is what occurred when Hernández Galicia was arrested, and also earlier this year with the arrest of the wildly corrupt head of Mexico’s national teachers union, Elba Esther Gordillo Morales.

La Quina said he wanted access to the funds as there were so many poor people in Mexico, and he felt a responsibility to help them, accusing Mexico’s current politicians of being only interested in enriching themselves.

The ex union boss, whose exile was internal and involved moving to Mexico City, Cuernavaca, and then back to Ciudad Madero, Tamaulipas,  claimed that during his thirty year leadership there was “no poverty”.

Not surprisingly, he was also critical of president Enrique Peña Nieto’s proposed energy reforms, which could open foreign participation in Mexico’s oil and gas industry, which provides about 30% of the country’s revenue.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

For related see:
After Gordillo arrest, new union leader embraces reform: but what about the “hundreds of political gangsters” in Mexico?

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