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Chiapas Government Tries to Pin Narco Arsenal on Peasant Leader
Oct 27 2009 - 12:33am
Military, Federal Police Bust Mexican Electrical Workers Union
Oct 13 2009 - 8:26am
Military, Federal Police Bust Mexican Electrical Workers Union
Oct 12 2009 - 2:16pm
Perú Official Threatens “Legal Action” Over Honduran Tear Gas Story
Sep 27 2009 - 6:44pm
A Mega-March of Supporters Will Receive Zelaya in Tegucigalpa
Jul 5 2009 - 3:35pm

Federal Police Intimidate Electrician Union Members in Iztapalapa, Mexico


Laid-Off Workers Vow to Relocate Their Table to Continue Assisting Striking Customers

On Monday, March 1, at about 9am, approximately ten heavily armed Federal Police arrived at the former Luz y Fuerza del Centro's Santa Cruz Meyehualco office in Iztatapalapa, Mexico, and forced union electricians to remove a table they had set up outside their former workplace.  The electricians, all members of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), have continuously staffed the table since December 17, 2009.

The table in Iztapalapa is one of about 250 "information modules" that the SME set up all over the area that Luz y Fuerza del Centro (LyFC) served before President Felipe Calderon's October 11 executive order that summarily shut down the power company and threw its 44,000 workers out on the street.

While the SME refers to the tables as "information modules," in reality they act as guerrilla customer service centers--and all of the services they offer are free to the public. Electric customers can go to the tables to file legal complaints with the government regarding service problems they have experienced since Calderon shut down LyFC and put its grid under the control of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).  Customers who file complaints can also join the consumer strike and refuse to pay their bills.  Electric customers who experience service interruptions either due to CFE incompetence or strike-related shut-offs can request that a team of SME electricians come out to restore their power.

Mexican Drug Policy Reform Movement Takes Shape

International Conference in Mexico City Provides Hope, Inspiration to a Budding Domestic Movement

This past February 22 and 23, drug policy experts and organizers from around the world gathered in Mexico City for “Winds of Change: Drug Policy Around the World,” a conference organized by the Collective for a Comprehensive Drug Policy (CUPIHD).

The conference was the first event CUPIHD has organized as a collective. Jorge Hernández Tinajero, CUPIHD’s president, told Narco News, “All of [CUPIHD’s members] have been working on this issue for at least ten years from our respective areas of expertise.” However, it was only recently that they joined forces under the banner of CUPIHD, which they founded last year “in order to transform the drug policy in Mexico to one with a harm reduction and human rights perspective.” According to fellow CUPIHD member and former federal Congresswoman Elsa Conde, the Winds of Change conference “is just the beginning.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales Visits Mexico City

The Event, Organized by the Mexico City Government, Was Evo's First Official Visit to Mexico

Evo Morales visited Mexico City on Sunday evening on his way to a Rio Group summit in Cancun.  The Mexico City government, controlled by the center-left Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), organized a public event and press conference to receive the Bolivian president.

Hundreds of Mexicans crowded into the central plaza in Coyoacan, an upscale neighborhood in southern Mexico City, to hear Morales speak.  Many wove wiphala flags, the rainbow-colored flag that represents Andean indigenous peoples in Bolivia.  Bolivia's new constitution, written during President Morales' administration, officially recognizes the wiphala as a government flag.

SME: "Don't Pay Your Electric Bill!"

Supporters Argue that the Closure of Luz y Fuerza is an Affront to Taxpayers, Electricity Customers, Workers, and Subcontractors

The Mexican Electric Workers Union (SME) is keeping the pressure on the federal government leading up to negotiations between the union and the government over the fate of 18,000 SME members who have still not accepted their severance packages. 

The SME is still fighting for a reversal of Calderon's October 10 executive order that shut down the government-owned electric company Luz y Fuerza del Centro, which supplied Mexico City and several central states.  The fight to reverse the executive order continues to play out in the courts. This past December, the Mexico City metropolitan region’s First District Court ruled against the SME's petition to reverse the executive order that put 44,000 union members out of a job literally overnight.  The SME has appealed the court's decision.

SME’s Secretary of External Relations, Humberto Montes de Oca, informed Narco News that the SME will enter negotiations with the government with an alternative option: that the 18,000 SME members who have still refused their severance packages return to work, that this return to work be under the terms of the collective contract that the SME negotiated with Luz y Fuerza, and that the SME represent those 18,000 former Luz y Fuerza workers when they go back to work.  Regarding its demand that its members return to work, the SME continues to fight for the re-opening of Luz y Fuerza.  However, union officials have also mentioned to the press that they would accept rehiring with the CFE as long as the CFE complies with the other two demands regarding representation and the SME’s contract.

Cover-Up and Political Revenge Alleged in Mariano Abarca Murder Case

Chiapas Government Arrests Opposition Politician for Anti-mining Organizer's Murder

On January 13, the Chiapas government arrested Walter Antonio León Montoya and accused him of being the "intellectual author" of the November 27 assassination of Chiapan anti-mining organizer Mariano Abarca Roblero. León Montoya is a former federal congressman from the opposition Institutional Revolution Party (PRI).  Chiapan Gov. Juan Sabines is from the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), which controls the state.

Abarca's organization, the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA), denies that León Montoya had anything to do with Abarca's murder.  In a press release, the organization argues, "It would appear that the accusation that León Montoya planned the assassination of Mariano Abarca Roblero is a strategy of political revenge."

REMA has accused employees of the Canadian mining company Blackfire Exploration of planning and carrying out Abarca's execution. The state arrested three former or current Blackfire employees after eyewitnesses identified them as the culprits.

Frustrated With Government Lies, Mexican Electricians Declare Wildcat Actions

Two Workers Detained and Later Released Following Other Campaign Mobilizations

Following President Felipe Calderon’s executive order that shut down state-owned Luz y Fuerza and put its 44,000 workers out of a job, Mexico’s other state-owned electricity company, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), began to remove equipment from Luz y Fuerza facilities. When Calderon shut down Luz y Fuerza, he put its infrastructure and territory under the CFE’s control.  However, former Luz y Fuerza workers, who consider their sudden firing to be illegal and immoral and continue to fight for work, were outraged that the CFE was “plundering” expensive equipment from their former workplace.  Workers set up protest barricades in front of their former workplaces in order to block the CFE’s trucks from hauling out more equipment.  Representatives from the Mexican Electricians Union (SME) visited the barricades, informed the workers that they were engaging in unsanctioned protest activity, and requested that the workers remove them. Workers at many barricades refused the union’s request, and the union refused to recognize and support the wildcat barricades.

Chiapas Murder Draws Criticism of Canadian Mining in Mexico

Canadian NGOs Call for Increased Oversight, Accountability; Mexican Communities Want Mines Closed

The recent murder of Chiapan anti-mining organizer Mariano Abarca Roblero has drawn sharp criticism of Canadian mining in Mexico. Abarca was shot to death in front of his home on November 27.  Three men linked to Canadian mining company Blackfire Exploration Ltd. were arrested for the murder.  Blackfire owns a barite mine in Chicomuselo, Chiapas. Abarca, a local resident, was the leader of a campaign to close the mine at the time of his assassination.

Drug War Sea Change in the US Congress?

Domestic Initiatives Are Cause for Hope; Foreign Drug War Funding Remains Unchanged For Now

The United States Congress set its sights on the drug war this week.  Legislators have or will consider several important bills that address the drug war at home and abroad.  According to decriminalization advocates, the news is mostly good.

On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives unanimously voted to create the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission.  This week the House is expected to vote on the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which includes measures that would repeal a national syringe funding ban and allow Washington, DC, to establish a medical marijuana program.  The Appropriations Act, also known as the Omnibus bill, also includes further funding for violent drug wars in Mexico, Central America, and Colombia.

Unions Take Over Mexico City to Support Electricians

Thousands of unionists and supporters shut down Mexico City during morning rush hour on Friday.  They were protesting President Felipe Calderon's recent decision to unilaterally close the government-owned Luz y Fuerza del Centro electricity company.  In the middle of the night this past October 10-11, Calderon sent thousands of soldiers and militarized Federal Police to take over Luz y Fuerza buildings and fire its workers.  Thousands of Federal Police continue to occupy the power company buildings.

Specifically, the unionists who took to the streets on Friday turned out to support the Mexican Union of Electric Workers (SME), the union that represents Luz y Fuerza workers, in their demand that the Calderon administration negotiate with the union.  They want to negotiate the reinstatement of SME's 44,000 workers and continued pensions for its 22,000 retirees.

Chiapas Anti-Mining Organizer Murdered

Mariano Abarca Led a Growing Movement to Kick Canadian Mining Companies Out of Mexican Communities

Mariano Abarca Roblero, one of Mexico's most prominent anti-mining organizers, was shot to death on the evening of November 27, 2009, in front of his house in Chicomuselo, Chiapas.  He left behind a wife and four children.  Another man was wounded in the shooting.

The incident comes just days after Abarca filed charges against two Blackfire employees, Ciro Roblero Perez and Luis Antonio Flores Villatoro, for threatening to shoot him if he didn't stop organizing against Canadian mining company Blackfire's barium mine in Chicomuselo.  According to a formal complaint filed by a government employee who works in the Chicomuselo municipal building, Roblero Perez arrived at the municipal building to say that he had gone to look for Abarca to "fuck him up in a hail of bullets."   He also reportedly said that Abarca and other people were on a list of people Blackfire management wants to hurt.  Blackfire public relations manager Luis Antonio Flores Villatoro was mentioned in the government employee's complaint as one of the people responsible for the list. 

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