Five participants in an open-ended hunger strike by dozens of laid-off Mexican electrical workers were taken to the hospital on May 21 and 22 as the protest reached the four-week mark. About 68 hunger strikers remained camped out in Mexico City’s main plaza, the Zócalo, in the workers’ latest protest against President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa’s sudden liquidation of the government-owned Central Light and Power Company (LFC) the night of Oct. 10. More than 17,000 of the 44,000 laid-off LFC workers, represented by the 95-year-old Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), have rejected the government’s severance package, choosing to fight the closing with protests and lawsuits.
The mass hunger strike began on April 25 with 10 participants subsisting on a combination of water, honey and a nutrient solution; 10 more were to join them each day, although most of these were limiting their participation to 24 hours. Another 13 workers started a hunger strike in Toluca in nearby México state. Four of the 10 original strikers were still fasting in the Zócalo on May 22; of a group of 10 women who joined later, only one had dropped out. A total of 12 strikers had had to stop for medical reasons, including blood pressure alterations and kidney and gastrointestinal problems.
On May 22 the SME’s interior secretary, Humberto Montes de Oca, said the strike would continue despite the loss of strikers due to health problems. “There are a lot of compañeros waiting for us to give them the green light to join the strike,” he said. “The important thing is that the fast already has an impact on society, as a demonstration that there can be resistance to the government’s authoritarian acts.” (La Jornada, Mexico, May 23)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 23.