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HomeBusinessExclusive: Controversial Mexican politician spotted in Vancouver

Exclusive: Controversial Mexican politician spotted in Vancouver


Bob Mackin

The mining union leader who returned to Mexico after 12 years in exile in Canada is back in Vancouver, has exclusively learned.

Sen. Napoleon Gomez Urrutia and wife Oralia Casso on Jan. 2.

Sen. Napoleon Gomez Urrutia traveled with wife Oralia Casso de Gomez on Jan. 2 from Mexico City on Aeromexico flight 696, according to a source who observed them board and disembark. The couple flew in first class seats 3A and 3B and presented dark blue-covered Canadian passports. The couple was photographed standing with a luggage cart.

The couple’s son, Ernesto Gomez Casso, is a restaurateur in Vancouver. The senator has not replied to an email to his senate office seeking information about whether he was traveling on official or personal business. 

Gomez was head of the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic, better known as Los Mineros, when he fled with his family to Vancouver in 2006. He blamed mining company Grupo Mexico and the Mexican government for “industrial homicide” after an explosion at a coal mine earlier that year in Coahuila killed 65 workers. He was charged for allegedly embezzling $55 million from a union trust fund that had been dissolved in 2005. Gomez denied the allegations. In 2014, a Mexican appeal court deemed the charges unconstitutional and cancelled an arrest warrant.

Napoleon Gomez Urrutia at a Whitecaps FC match in B.C. Place Stadium (Facebook)

Gomez continued to run Los Mineros from afar, enjoyed the support of Unifor and the United Steelworkers and even became a Canadian citizen in 2014. Elections BC’s database shows seven donations to the B.C. NDP, from 2009 to 2017, totalling $2,680. Oxford-educated Gomez succeeded his father as the union’s leader in 2000, but never worked in a mine.

In 2018, Gomez triumphantly returned to Mexico when he was appointed a senator under that country’s mixed member proportional representation system after the election of new president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. At the time, Gomez claimed he had renounced his Canadian citizenship in order to lawfully assume his seat in the senate.

Early last year, Gomez formed the International Labour Confederation, an umbrella for 150 Mexican unions.

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