Fidel Velásquez, the ninety-seven-year-old Mexican labor baron, finally expired on a Saturday morning last June. Those Mexicans who owed him the most were in full attendance at his wake: the free-market, ruling-party elite led by the government finance minister, and Velásquez’s fossilized, millionaire lieutenants in the Mexican Confederation of Workers (CTM). The CTM, which Velásquez commanded for nearly six decades, claims a membership of five million in more than twelve thousand affiliated unions. But limousines seemed to outnumber workers that day at the seven-story, bunker-like CTM headquarters. Velásquez, who almost single-handedly transformed Mexican workers into an arm of the ruling party, was to the end a servant of the state.
Most of the few hundred blue-collars who showed came from a Chrysler plant, whose managers enticed them with gifts of new uniforms and a free bus ride to the city. They were told to return for the funeral on Sunday, but not many were on ha...
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