Members of the independent Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) were guarding the Mexico City facilities of the state-owned Central Light and Power Company (LFC) to make sure the federal government could not “throw the switch and blame the workers,” union president Martín Esparza Flores said after a labor forum in the capital on Oct. 3. The union charged on Sept. 29 that President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa’s center-right administration was contemplating a quasi-military occupation of the plants within a week on the pretext that the SME was planning to cause a blackout. The LFC provides power for the Federal District, and México, Morelos, Puebla and Hidalgo states.
The union denied any intention to sabotage the system; the SME was calling for resistance through mobilizations and marches, Esparza Flores said. The militant union has been a leading force in the National Front Against Privatization and other movements fighting the government’s neoliberal economic policies.
Labor Secretary Javier Lozano Alarcón has refused to recognize Esparza Flores as president of the union following an election this year that was challenged by Alejandro Muñoz Reséndiz, who heads the small dissident group Union Transparency. Lozano could declare the election invalid, leaving the union without official leaders. The secretary of labor used a similar tactic with the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers and the Like of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSRM), leading to a three-year struggle that remains unresolved. The move against the SME leadership came as the government was reducing the power company’s budget and was calling for a change in management and for the complete restructuring of the company.
The SME says that Muñoz Reséndiz and some 20-30 other Union Transparency members attacked the union’s headquarters in Mexico City on Sept. 23, taking money, checkbooks and records. They were supported by about 150 other people who were not members of the union, some of them armed, according to the SME. (La Jornada, Mexico, Oct. 4; Mexican Labor News and Analysis, September 2009)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 4