Thousands of campesinos from across Mexico blocked central avenues of the capital Jan. 30, many having traveled for days for the protest directed at President Felipe Calderón. Protesters decried that Calderón has instated a freeze on petrol prices, but not diesel—on which tractors and other farm equipment run. They also rejected Calderón’s free trade policies, which they say hurts the farm sector.
Teachers from Oaxaca and other states also marched in force, both in support of the campesinos’ demands and to protest Calderón’s planned reforms of the social security system and education system—which they see as moves towards privatization of both.
For five hours, hundreds of transport operators from the city of Nezahualcóyotl blocked the principal arteries into the capital, immediately to the north, using their combis (microbuses) to seal off street traffic. (BBC World Service, Jan. 31; La Jornada, Mexico City, El Imparcial, Oaxaca, Jan. 30)
Meanwhile, hundreds of farmers, principally from the state of Chihuahua, blocked the Córdova-Las Américas bridge that links the border city of Juárez with El Paso, TX. With banners reading “SIN MAIZ, NO HAY PAIS” (Without corn there is no country), the protesters called upon US President Barack Obama to follow through on his campaign pledge to demand a renegotiation of NAFTA. (El Golfo, Veracruz, Jan. 30)
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