Workers captured a few of the thugs and turned them over to the news media. The initial reports that circulated claimed that a CTM official and a local gangster had hired the thugs.
That story sounds straightforward. What rang false to you about that initial claim?
I could see that getting all those thugs in there had been a massive operation, well above and beyond what it would have taken to resolve a simple labor dispute. This seemed to me like an attempt to wipe out an entire movement not just at Ford, but in all of México.
Another clue that the shooting story had more to it came after my local and others reached out to extend support to the Mexican workers. The US ambassador to México then wrote to the US secretary of state and urged him to get someone to stop us. The ambassador said our solidarity efforts were creating a problem.
In the 1980s, remember, Ronald Reagan was worrying deeply about the Sandinista victory in Nicaragua and the socialists contending for power in El Salvador. Reagan felt the US couldn’t afford to “lose México,” and the strength of the progressive presidential candidate in México’s 1988 election, Cuauhtémoc Cardenas, had taken him aback. Reagan officials, entrenched in a Cold War mentality that saw Latin America as a collection of US client states, undoubtedly supported the stealing of that 1988 election by the pro-US Carlos Salinas. The Iran crisis had just ended, and Reagan was calling México “the Iran next door.”
The AFL-CIO at that time also maintained a Cold War mentality, in lockstep with the US government. The AFL-CIO’s American Institute for Free Labor Development, AIFLD, undermined foreign unions and destabilized foreign governments to prevent any left electoral victories. AIFLD, as I note in my book, essentially amounted to a government-created organization managed by the CIA.
Owen Bieber, the UAW president at the time of the incident at Ford, denied any knowledge about the violence. But Bieber had met with CTM officers and served on the AIFLD Board. That leads me to believe that Bieber knew more than he let on. As I kept investigating, the shadowy forces behind the assault at Ford began to take more substantial shape — in the form of the CIA.