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Friday, October 16, 2009
Luz y Fuerza
Photo: Over 150 thousand people crowded the streets of Mexico City (at the famous Angel of Independence and the Plaza of the Constitution) yesterday in support of the Union of Mexican Electricians. Other sources report over 300 thousand (More people than the biggest march in D.C. against the war in Iraq). There were also a number of reported protests in over 10 of the 32 Mexican states. Photo taken from http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2009/10/16/.
On Sunday President Felipe Caldero closed the state-owned electrical company, Luz y Fuerza. Since then, Mexico has gone wild with thousands of Mexican families without power, protests, closing down of streets and a strong polarization between those citizens who support the President's actions and those who don't.
A number of my friends and professors are in complete opposition to what the president did. They believe it completely unjust to put thousands of people out of employment and say that this is the government's way of replacing state-owned companies and services with private businesses. Others believe that this is part of the government's efforts to create fear and militarize the country. Some are happy with Calderon's decision and say that they are glad the he FINALLY did what should have been done long ago to those corrupt unions that function poorly and inefficiently. They say that the unions are a huge burden on the state and tax payers.
Either way, this is something very serious and has created an uproar in all corners in the country. Mexico is at the point of exploding with all the violence, corruption, apathy and injustice that has taken over. Will this fate continue or will the citizens stand up and say no more to these conditions? Will all of us, not just Mexico, stand up and say "NO MORE"!?
Thousands March In Mexico Against Closure Of State Utility
(This article was originally published Thursday, taken from http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20091016-707032.html)
By Paul Kiernan
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Members of the Mexican Electricians Union, or SME, gathered by the thousands in downtown Mexico City Thursday to march in protest of the government's decision to shut down state-owned power utility Luz y Fuerza del Centro.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon decreed the closure of LFC on Sunday, citing chronic inefficiencies, labor liabilities, and operating losses that require hefty transfers from the federal government.
LFC's operations have been taken over by the larger state utility, Comision Federal de Electricidad, or CFE.
Despite the government's offer to pay laid off LFC workers an average of 2.5 years of salary in severance, the 44,000 workers and 22,000 retirees represented by the SME are seeking to undo the decree.
Victor Maldonado, 50, a union member from nearby Puebla state, said the closure of LFC leaves him with few options for future employment due to his age.
"Who's going to hire me now?" Lopez said, adding that he worked for the utility for 25 years.
Nestor Lopez, 47, said that the severance package - about 200,000 pesos ($15,290) in his case - is insufficient and that he won't accept it.
"I have five children; I didn't plan for this," Lopez said.
Other groups, including the miners and social security workers unions, joined the roughly two-mile march of tens of thousands along the capital's Reforma Avenue to the Zocalo, the city's main square.
Union members were joined by their families and friends, while spectators, student groups and food vendors further swelled the crowd.
Some protesters carried banners; others chanted slogans against Calderon or the CFE; while others sported Che Guevara paraphernalia and the occasional swine flu mask.
City authorities diverted traffic from the march route and suspended an open-air book fair being held in the Zocalo until Monday.
Surveys published in recent days by local newspapers showed that more people support the decision to shut LFC than oppose it, with about half in favor, around 40% against, and the rest without an opinion.
Private sector groups have enthusiastically backed the measure, while leftist political groups have decried the decision.
According to government data, LFC had twice as many complaints per thousand customers as the CFE, and lost a third of the electricity it distributed to inefficient distribution and theft, compared with 11% for CFE.
"Its operating costs nearly doubled its income," Calderon said.
-By Paul Kiernan, Dow Jones Newswires; (5255)5001-5726, firstname.lastname@example.org