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Lights out: Blitzkrieg on Mexican Unions
President Calderon turns off the lights in Mexico
Michael Werbowski (minou)     Print Article 
Published 2009-10-16 15:10 (KST)   
This article is only lightly edited.  <Editor's Note>
The Mexican capital is prone to power outages due to sudden and swift downpours or other natural occurrences. But this time, Felipe Calderon has caused the black outs. On Sunday the president issued a decree which by means of brutal force closed down one of the two major national electric companies (Luz y Fuerza del Centro) as part of a head on assault against both publicly owned and state subsided utilities and their unions.

The draconian measure which amounts to a military type coup against organized labor, was justified by the secretary of energy Georgina Kessel, as a cost cutting and saving operation. "This measure is part of our plan to have state enterprises provide their services efficiently and - I emphasize - not become obstacles to economic growth," she said.

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The government under the guise of a better performance in the this industry, which supposedly is losing lots of money and provides poor service, has effectively taken over the sector in the anticipation of a future privatization of electricity in Mexico. In the process 44,000 the state owned and run sector셲 workers have been de facto forced out of their jobs.
Protests as planned later this week in Mexico City and already there are reports of blackouts in the capital and other parts of the country.

Officials have quickly attributed the power failures as acts of sabotage by union members in what appears to be an orchestrated vilification of unions. This is just what Mexico does not need right now. In the midst of the country셲 worst economic crisis, the lights are going out. This is bound to severely hamper industrial production nationwide, not to mention the chaos it might cause in a city of over 20 million inhabitants. The government asserts that the union leadership has been 쐋ooting and 쐔unnelling 쏿ssets from the company셲 coffers (which remind me of the Wall Street bankers favorite sport). Just imagine traffic lights, bank alarms stalled elevators in between floors, then the real looting at street level might begin.

Why Now?

Felipe Calderon, was once energy secretary under the previous Fox presidency has relentless sought to violate the Mexican constitution which effectively prohibits the privation of state owned oil and electricity assets . By hook or by crook, he has always sought to sell off the lucrative (although highly inefficient due to internal officially condoned corruption) to foreign corporation and investors eager to see Mexican oil and power generation handed over to them.

He is running out of time and political capital. The opposition parties have taken control over the Mexican Congress in last July셲 congressional elections. The iron fist is the only way to bulldoze over legislative opposition to the privatization of the Mexican petroleum and electric power generation sector.

Of course the business community has hailed the take over as a heroic move on the part of the president. Yet it is a further sign that Mexico is becoming progressively militarized and a further blow to the fledgling democratic process already decomposing due the war between the armed forces and drug cartels.

The government takeover is a putsch in favor of privatization. "The police and military assault on the electricity workers is a serious setback in the precarious democratic life of our country," wrote columnist Luis Hernandez Navarro in the daily La Jornada. "It establishes a nefarious precedent, taking us back to the darkest eras of authoritarianism."

©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Michael Werbowski

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