On May 20 about 100 residents of seven rural communities in Cunduacán municipality in the southern Mexican state of Tabasco blocked access to the Madrefil-1 oil well to demand compensation for what they say is damage to their lands. Drilling on the well, which belongs to Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the government’s giant oil monopoly, started at the beginning of the year. The campesinos say the work has already killed their crops and livestock and damaged their homes. “We asked the PEMEX engineers to take us into account, but they didn’t pay any attention,” one protester told the media.
On May 30 PEMEX officials said the blockade was creating the danger of an accident at the facility. Fifteen workers remained there; the campesinos reportedly wouldn’t let them leave. According to the officials, the real reasons for the blockade were electoral. PEMEX said state legislators and candidates for Tabasco’s Oct. 18 municipal and legislative elections had been meeting with the protesters. But the residents said they wouldn’t lift the blockade until PEMEX directors took action on their demands. (ADN, May 30 from EFE; El Financiero, Mexico, May 29)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 31