Mexico: goons break sit-in at Pemex union office

In the early morning of Aug. 15 a group of about 40 dissident unionists occupied the Mexico City headquarters of the Union of Petroleum Workers of the Mexican Republic (STPRM) to protest the recent reelection of Carlos Romero Deschamps, who has headed the union for 17 years. Dissident leader Omar Toledo Aburto gave a press conference in Romero Deschamps’ luxurious office, announcing that he would be the “interim national leader of the more than 97,000 petroleum workers while elections take place.” Two hours after the sit-in began, about 50 supporters of Romero Deschamps arrived wielding metal pipes and carrying pistols in their belts. They retook the office, beat the dissidents and confiscated their documents and cellphones. (La Jornada, Aug. 16)

Opponents of Mexican president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa’s plan for the partial privatization of the state-owned oil monopoly, Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), say that Romero Deschamps’ leadership of the STPRM is “key” to the plan. The current leader will keep the petroleum workers from mobilizing and protesting any privatization, according to Francisco Carrillo Soberon, a former secretary in the Mexican Electricity Workers Union (SME). (LJ, Aug. 17) Meanwhile, voting on a non-binding referendum organized by opponents of Calderon’s plan continues. Organizers projected a turnout of about 393,000 for the second round, which took place on Aug. 10 in seven states: Campeche, Colima, Oaxaca, Puebla, Tabasco, Yucatan and Quintana Roo. As in the first round—on July 27 in the Federal District (DF) and nine states—the vote was overwhelmingly against Calderón’s plan. The final round of voting is set for Aug. 24. (LJ, Aug. 11)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 17

See our last posts on Mexico, the labor struggle and the struggle for Pemex.