Mexico: fishermen strike over fuel prices

Thousands of fishermen in Mexico went on strike last week to protest the rise in the cost of diesel fuel, which they say has reduced their profit margin to zero. The strike, dubbed “Zero Fishing 2009,” was declared in the northern state of Sinaloa by fishermen operating a fleet of around 100. In less than a week, the number of vessels involved in the strike had climbed to over 2,500.

Rafael Ruíz, president of the National Chamber of the Fishing and Aquaculture Industries, said that from 2006 to 2008, the price of a liter of diesel fuel used by boats went up from 3.50 to 7.38 pesos (from 26 to 56 cents in US currency). Diesel fuel represents 60% of a fishing vessel’s total costs, Ruíz said. “We didn’t want to stop working because this leaves us without an income,” said Ruíz. “We are not part of the public sector, and no one will reimburse us for our losses, but there was no alternative.”

The head of the governmental National Commission on Aquaculture and Fisheries, Ramón Corral, accused the strike organizers of being politically motivated and called on them to negotiate. But Ruíz said that no government official has contacted him or any other leader in the industry. (IPS, Jan. 7)

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