Mexico aids workers stranded in Glenwood
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Mexican government has become involved in the situation of around 65 workers who came to the United States legally and say they were denied promised work and adequate payment.
Adriana Valdes, spokeswoman for the Mexican Consulate in Denver, said late Friday afternoon, “At this point we have several lawyers working on this and we will have a more clear picture of what’s going on in the next couple of hours.”
She said the consulate’s protection department is currently focusing all its attention on the case because there are so many people involved. In a statement, the consulate said it will give economic assistance to any of the Mexicans who have no means of returning to their homes.
The men, who turned to Glenwood Springs’ Catholic Charities for help, say they were promised work by the Texas company JNS Construction. JNS sent two buses to take the men back to Mexico Friday morning after the men waited in Glenwood Springs since the end of November.
One bus, marked Hotel Mexicano Bus Lines of Laredo, Texas, slid backwards on the fresh snow, nearly hitting a parked car. That, after failing to make it up a slight grade to the front of the Affordable Inns, where the workers were staying. Drivers cleared snow from the tires and the bus eventually made it up the incline.
Tom Ziemann, director of Catholic Charities, questioned if the buses could even leave on a planned route to Denver without chains while chain restrictions were in effect on Interstate 70 on Vail Pass.
“I’ve made them a cash offer and I’ve sent the buses for them to come home,” said John Herzor, of JNS Construction. He added that’s all he would say before he hung up the phone abruptly.
Through an interpreter, some of the workers expressed their frustration.
“All we’ve gotten is lies from this individual,” said Federico Gonzales. “He said if we came here on our legal visas, there would be work. He never came. We never got the work we were promised. … I had to get a loan in order to get the visa to come here. My family literally has no money.”
“We came here with nothing in our pockets – only lies,” said Daniel Davila Martinez.
He said he paid $1,200 to get here and would lose his house unless he could somehow come up with a payment.
Juan Gabriel Alejandro Ramirez wondered how he would get from the buses’ planned drop-off point in Monterrey, Mexico, to his home state of Tabasco without any money. He wondered what his wife would think after he spent their money to get here and would return with hardly anything.
“This is a terrible injustice, not only to me but to my family,” Alejandro Ramirez said.
Glenwood Springs attorney Don Kaufman has been working for free with the men and drafted a demand for wages. It states that JNS represented to the government it needed 150 laborers for a project in Avon. They supposedly were to be contracted through the Midwest Drywall Co.
Midwest Drywall Co. claims a statement filed in JNS’ application to the government that Midwest needed the workers at this time is a “forgery,” Kaufman’s demand states. It adds that each worker spent at least $400 to come here for work and that the 65 workers deserve more than $3,000 each for a total of $200,590, according to Colorado and federal law.
On Friday, the demand could be viewed at http://www.coloradoattorney.org.