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Thousands march in Monclova, Coahuila, in support steelmaker Altos Hornos. Thousands march in Monclova, Coahuila, in support of the steelmaker.

9,000 march in Coahuila in support of Altos Hornos and jailed CEO

Worry and uncertainty over a company that employs 20,000 people in the state

Around 9,000 people marched in Monclova, Coahuila, yesterday to support steelmaker Altos Hornos de México and its president, Alonso Ancira Elizondo, who was arrested in Spain earlier this week on corruption charges.

Altos Hornos managers and employees and state and local officials joined the march.

“Someone who isn’t familiar with Coahuila wouldn’t be able to understand the uncertainty we’re going through about the company,” Coahuila Labor Secretary Román Cepeda González told the assembled protesters after the march ended.

Cepeda said that Coahuila Governor Miguel Riquelme was worried about the operation of Altos Hornos in light of the arrest of its president, although the company continues operating.

Company general manager Luis Zamudio said the company’s operations were not at risk.

Altos Hornos CEO Ancira shows his handcuffs after his arrest this week in Spain.
Altos Hornos CEO Ancira shows his handcuffs after his arrest this week in Spain.

Monclova Mayor Alfredo Paredes also spoke in support of the company.

“We will defend our families, our incomes, our economy,” he said. “We are coming out to defend legality. The way they’ve acted has created worry and uncertainty.”

The first move against the company came earlier this week when the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Attorney General’s Office froze its bank accounts. However, the accounts were freed after Ancira’s arrest on Tuesday in Mallorca, Spain, by Interpol agents who were acting on a Mexican arrest warrant.

Ancira faces corruption charges related to the 2014 sale by Altos Hornos of a fertilizer plant to Pemex, although federal officials have released few details of the charges.

A warrant for the arrest of former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya has also been issued, but he has obtained a temporary suspension against the warrant, according to his attorney.

Monclova-headquartered Altos Hornos is the largest integrated steel plant in Mexico and employs over 20,000 people.

According to an attorney for the company it generates 18% of the state’s Gross Domestic Product.

Sources: El Universal (sp), Vanguardia (sp), Expansión (sp)

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