Mexico: transport strike in 17 states

Some 500,000 Mexican bus and truck drivers and owners held a one-day strike on Feb. 16, slowing freight deliveries and forcing many passengers to find alternative transportation in 17 of the country’s 32 entities (31 states and the Federal District). The strike was called by the Alliance of Multimodal Transport, recently formed by about 200 transport associations. The alliance is demanding that the federal government freeze diesel fuel prices at 6.31 pesos (about $0.43) a liter; the fuel is distributed by the state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) oil company.

The strike was uneven. It was reportedly imperceptible in Quintana Roo in the southeast, while in México state, near Mexico City, the México-Pachuca and México-Querétaro highways were blocked by some 200 heavy trucks. Authorities in the eastern coastal state of Veracruz said about 4 million passengers were affected by the strike, which took 11,000 buses out of circulation; truckers also blocked the toll booths on the Jalapa highway for five hours. About 400,000 passengers were affected in Saltillo and Monclova in the northern state of Coahuila, while service was normal in Piedras Negras, Acuña and Torreón. In Chihuahua, also in the north, transport workers parked trucks and buses along the sides of the Pan American highway. At least 150,000 passengers were stranded in the central state of Aguascalientes. About 13,000 buses and trucks blocked avenues and intersections in the main cities of the southern state of Oaxaca, while only 345 of the 1,793 buses in Mérida, capital of Yucatán in the southeast, were out of service.

Carlos Demuner Pitol, a strike leader, said some authorities in Chihuahua and other states had offered to raise fares and freight rates if the alliance called off the strike, but the strikers rejected the offer, saying citizens would set their trucks and buses on fire if the rates went up. Another strike leader, Edmundo Delgado, said that if the government rejected their demand, the alliance would bring 300,000 vehicles to the Zócalo plaza in Mexico City. (La Jornada, Mexico, Feb. 17)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 22

See our last post on Mexico and the labor struggle.