Susana Prieto, a labor lawyer and activist, was arrested in Matamoros, Tamaulipas

Prieto claims that officials Chihuahua and Tamaulipas are persecuting her for her activism 

Susana Prieto, a labor lawyer and activist, was arrested in Matamoros, Tamaulipas
State prosecutors said Prieto is accused of threatening members of a local labor board to get them to sign off on wage increases - Photo: File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 10/06/2020 15:23 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Mark Stevenson/AP, Sandra Tovar Actualizada 15:40

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Mexican authorities arrested Susana Prieto, a labor lawyer who led a wave of 2019 walkouts for higher wages at border assembly plants known as maquiladoras.
 
On June 8, detectives arrested Susana Prieto in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on charges that included inciting riot, threats, and coercion. Prieto taped her detention and posted it on social media, saying she had been expecting the arrest.
 

 
The lawyer was eating in a restaurant with her family when Tamaulipas authorities arrester her.
 
Prieto claims that officials Chihuahua and Tamaulipas, where she was arrested, are persecuting her because she affected the economic interests of maquiladora operators.
 
“I knew that sooner or later the governor was going to do this,” Prieto said. “You could see this coming.”
 
State prosecutors said Prieto is accused of threatening members of a local labor board to get them to sign off on wage increases. She is also accused of having prevented staff from entering or leaving maquiladora plants during the walkouts in 2019 and of having used coercion on maquiladora owners to get them to yield to wage increases.
 
It is unclear whether Prieto’s status as an independent labor adviser may have made her a target of charges. 
 
Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas, was the city where Prieto led a wave of successful strikes in early 2019 at 48 export-oriented maquiladoras that won workers 20% pay increases and USD 1,650 bonuses.
 
Video posted on her Facebook page showed a large crowd of people gathered outside Prosecutors’ Offices in Matamoros on Monday chanting slogans for her release, shouting .“We are with Susana!” and “Free Susana!”
 
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Prieto also recently campaigned against policies at maquiladora plants in Ciudad Juárez that she claimed put workers at risk of contracting COVID-19. She filmed and appeared to advise walkouts at some Ciudad Juárez plants that refused to shut down and send workers home with full pay, which Mexican labor law allows.
 
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador unleashed the series of wage demands in late 2018 when he doubled the daily minimum wage to MXN 176.20 along Mexico’s northern border. To keep wages low, maquiladoras in Matamoros had long indexed wage increases to the minimum wage; however, that policy backfired when López Obrador doubled it.
 
López Obrador’s government was uncomfortable with the movement but didn’t actively try to quash it at the time. That was in part because he had pledged to end government manipulation of unions and allow new, more representative labor movements in a nation where unions have long been corrupt, acquiescent, and manipulated by the government.
 
López Obrador has pledged to stay out of internal union affairs and has been loath to arrest old-guard union leaders.
 
In May, when asked about López Obrador’s decision, amid U.S. pressure, to reopen many plants despite the coronavirus pandemic, the lawyer said it showed the government was yielding to pressure from multinationals.
 
After the crowds gathered at Prosecutors’ Offices Monday in Matamoros, prosecutors transferred Prieto south to the state capital, Ciudad Victoria, where she had an initial court hearing on June 9. 
 
However, Prieto Terrazas is not only known for her activism since many have questioned her wealth. She co-owns three companies in El Paso with her husband Raúl Peña, where she also owns a USD 400,000 home. Some have also criticized her for her trips around the world. 
 
On June 10, a judge bound the lawyer over to trial. She will not be released on bail

Recommended: Factories in Matamoros losing USD $50 million a day amid strikes
 
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