Mexico: federal cops rout electrical workers

Some 600 Mexican federal police agents used tear gas and nightsticks to remove about 100 members of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) on May 27 from outside the Teopanzolco substation of the Central Light and Power Company (LFC) in Cuernavaca, capital of Morelos state, south of Mexico City. The unionists, who lost their jobs along with 44,000 other LFC employees when President Felipe Calderón suddenly liquidated the state-owned power company the night of Oct. 10, were blocking access to the facility to keep the police from removing five LFC vans. The workers said they were defending their source of work.

At least 10 workers were injured in the police attack. Later an LFC vehicle hit a worker, who was taken to the Cuernavaca General Hospital; the other protesters surrounded the vehicle, broke windows and injured the driver, an employee of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), which is taking over LFC operations. The federal police also destroyed an encampment the workers had set up outside the substation, along with an encampment at the Ocotepec substation, also in Cuernavaca.

Activists in the western state of Jalisco started a “hunger strike in relays” in Guadalajara’s Plaza de Armas on May 27 to show solidarity with a month-old hunger strike by SME members in Mexico City. (La Jornada, Mexico, May 28)

In other labor news, Section 22 of the huge National Education Workers Union (SNTE) started a two-day strike in the southern state of Oaxaca on May 27, leaving 1.3 million students without classes, according to the local’s general secretary, Azael Santiago Chepi. In addition to local demands, Section 22 was calling for a cancellation of the Alliance for Quality Education (ACE), a program pushed by the federal government and the SNTE national leadership, and its replacement with an alternative program. Teachers blocked shopping malls, banks, government buildings and tollbooths during the first day of the strike. Santiago Chepi said Section 22 would start an open-ended strike on June 15 if the teachers didn’t receive a satisfactory answer from the state and local governments. (LJ, May 28) (Repression of a strike by Section 22 four years ago triggered a popular uprising that paralyzed much of the state for more than four months.)

Some of the Section 22 strikers joined a march in Mexico City on May 28 by about 8,000 teachers from a number of different states. The protest, organized by the National Education Workers Coordinating Committee (CNTE), the main rank-and-file caucus in the SNTE, demanded higher pay for teachers and cancellation of the ACE program. (LJ, May 29)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 30.

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