[News] Mexican Electricians Declare Wildcat Actions

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 14 12:58:14 EST 2010

Frustrated With Government Lies, Mexican Electricians Declare Wildcat Actions

Posted by 
Bricker - January 14, 2010 at 12:53 am

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 

One such barricade was the one located in 
Lechería.  Former Luz y Fuerza workers 
established that barricade on December 7 when a 
caravan of CFE trucks tried to haul away a 
turbine from the power plant.  The barricade cut 
off access to the power plant to prevent CFE 
workers and the contractors and police that 
accompanied them from removing more equipment. 
Anywhere between five and twenty workers staffed 
the barricade at any given time.

The workers at the Lechería barricade report 
frequent harassment from Federal Police.  Heavily 
armed Federal Police first showed up at the 
barricade on December 15, reportedly to 
“intimidate” the workers in the barricades.  On 
the night of January 7, approximately 30 Federal 
Police reportedly arrived to forcibly disassemble 
the barricade.  The police removed materials that 
blocked the entrance and forced open the plant 
doors.  According to the workers, they carried 
out a turbine, four jets, and a pick-up truck 
filled with tools and spare parts.  The Federal 
Police then entered the workers’ plantón (protest 
encampment) located near the barricade and stole 
a laptop computer that belonged to the 
workers.  Raul Navarrete, a former Luz y Fuerza 
worker who helped staff the barricade, told Narco 
News that the computer contained videos, photos, 
and texts that documented the workers’ protest 
activities since they were first laid off.  At 
the time of publication, the police refuse to hand over the laptop.

It is worth pointing out that the Federal Police 
receive training and equipment from the United 
States through the Merida Initiative under the 
auspices of combating drug trafficking.

The situation at the Lechería barricade took a 
turn for the worse on January 8.  On that day, a 
man in a truck showed up at the plantón and 
reportedly offered to help the workers re-install 
the barricade by dumping gravel in front of the 
plant.  Before the driver was able to dump the 
gravel, Federal Police arrested him and workers 
Enrique Mejía García and Sergio David Rodríguez 
Martínez.  Both workers are adherents to the 
Zapatistas’ Other Campaign and participated in the protest encampment.

The two workers were charged with attempted 
sabotage and attempted “crimes against the 
nation’s consumption and wealth.”  The men’s 
lawyers argued that 
government had no basis for the charges because 
the alleged crime was never carried out.

Crimes against the nation’s consumption and 
wealth is a serious crime and made the men inelegible for bail.

Because the two detainees are adherents to the 
Zapatista’s Other Campaign, fellow adherents 
mobilized in Mexico City and joined former Luz y 
Fuerza workers outside the jails where the two 
men were being held.  The round-the-clock protest 
encampments outside the jails­in which around 50 
people participated at any given time­were 
effective.  The government dropped the charges 
against the men and released them on the night of January 13.

The men were reportedly released without any sort 
of conditions or negotiations.  This is good news 
for their former co-workers, who are already 
meeting to discuss how to continue their wildcat actions.

Narco News spoke with former Luz y Fuerza worker 
Raul Navarrete about his experience in the 
wildcat barricade outside the Lechería power plant.

Narco News: What was your position in Luz y Fuerza?

Navarrete: I was a Class A operator in a power 
plant in Iztapalapa [in southern Mexico City].

Narco News: How did the wildcat barricade come about?

Navarrete: This barricade was organized by 
workers from Lechería.  They decided to come and 
camp out in protest on December 7. They made the 
decision when the CFE and the Federal Police 
began to take valuable equipment from the jet 
repair workshop in the Lechería power 
plant.  [The former workers] came out despite the 
fact that the SME offered absolutely no 
support.  So the workers, who are SME members, 
got together and set up the protest 
encampment.  More compañeros who also worked in 
that plant in Lechería started to come out.  And 
that’s how they started to organize themselves.

Later, compañeros from the J. Luque 
[thermo-electric] plant set up an encampment in 
front of that plant, and compañeros from the 
union’s school also came out.  In J. Luque 
there’s a warehouse that has cables and 
transformers.  They also got worried and set up a protest encampment.

There's also protest encampments in Tacuba, 
Necaxa, Pachuca, Toluca, and 
Cuernavaca.  Compañeros from our encampment 
visited the others to see how they were doing and share experiences.

Narco News: Why were the CFE and the Federal Police taking away the equipment?

Navarrete: We don’t know.  More than anything 
else they were taking out the turbines, which are 
used to generate electricity.  This worried us 
because if we went back to work, we wouldn’t have 
any equipment to work with.  The workshop is for 
repairing jet turbines that are worth millions of 
dollars.  If they take them away, we won’t have anything to work with.

Narco News: And the protest encampment didn’t receive support from the SME?

Navarrete: No.  When they set up the encampment, 
[representatives] from the [SME] Local in 
Lechería came out and told them to go away.  They 
told them they couldn’t be there. The workers 
didn’t pay any attention to them and they stayed 
so that they wouldn’t keep taking out equipment.

Narco News: What are the encampment’s demands?

Navarrete: An end to the plundering of the [Luz y Fuerza] buildings.

Narco News: How many workers in the Lechería 
protest encampment are adherents to the Zapatistas’ Other Campaign?

Navarrete: Two­Sergio and Enrique.  They’re both in jail.

Narco News: It’s said that those in the protest 
encampments disagree with the SME.

Navarrete: Exactly. They’ve differentiated 
themselves from the SME.  Of course, they also 
respect the SME’s ideas and politics, but their 
vision was to come and form a protest 
encampment.  And not just be there, but inform 
people, hold political and cultural events so 
that the residents were informed about what’s 
been going on.  And a lot of people were coming 
out.  The workers in the encampment gave them 
information about the situation.

We didn’t agree with the SME­or rather, the SME 
leadership.  They didn’t let us camp out in 
protest­it wasn’t permitted. They won’t support 
us, so we started looking for our own resources, 
and for support from the people.

Narco News: What do you think of the latest SME 
proposal that the 18,000 Luz y Fuerza workers who 
haven’t accepted their severance packages be 
rehired by the CFE and represented by the SME, 
presumably with a contract that starts at 
zero?  Their original demand was a reversal of 
Calderon’s executive order and the re-opening of Luz y Fuerza.

Navarrete: We clearly understand that they won’t 
give back Luz y Fuerza.  Maybe they’ll give us a 
source of work.  Some source of income.  But this 
is secondary.  More than anything else, we’re 
against how all this was carried out­the real 
reasons for why Luz y Fuerza was shut down [Narco 
News note: There is evidence that 
shutdown of Luz y Fuerza has facilitated the 
privatization of its fiber optic network, and SME 
members are acutely aware of this fact.]  And 
above all, this blow to Luz y Fuerza workers was 
a blow to the working class, to unions.  An 
injustice was committed against the 44,000 Luz y 
Fuerza workers­and not just them.  Many more 
people have been affected. [Most Luz y Fuerza workers were breadwinners.]

In my point of view, from the beginning the 
process hasn’t been clear.  The government says 
it’ll give us work, but that’s not going to 
happen.  So above all, we’re doing this to defend 
our rights.  Now it’s not so much about giving us 
back Luz y Fuerza .  It’s about defending our 
rights as workers and as human beings.

We want the government to tell the 
truth.  They’ve been demonizing us from the 
beginning­saying we’re drunks, drug addicts, 
crazies, thiefs, that we don’t work.  Then they 
say that they’re going to hire us back [with the 
CFE]. Well, if we’re bad people and drunks and 
lazy bums, why would they rehire us?

Narco News: Do you think they will rehire you?

Navarrete: Look, I’ve got some friends who 
accepted their severance packages. Three months 
have passed, and the government hasn’t rehired 
them.  [The government promised to do its best to 
rehire the workers who promptly accepted their 
severance packages.]  A lot of people who 
accepted their severance packages did so for 
precisely that reason­so they’d be rehired.  They 
were desperate.  And now they realize that the 
government was manipulating them, that it wasn’t telling the truth.

I haven’t accepted my severance package because I 
don’t agree with how this went down.  Moreover, 
my severance package doesn’t cover all that I’m 
entitled to. [This criticism is common amongst 
former Luz y Fuerza workers, that their severance 
packages were poorly calculated and are less than 
the amount to which they are legally entitled.] 
The government said it was going to give us 
two-and-a-half years of our salary.  It sounded 
like a ton of money, but it’s not true.

I have a cousin that worked at Luz y Fuerza for 
thirteen years.  They calculated his severance 
package using a much lower salary than what he 
was actually getting paid.  He accepted his 
severance package out of necessity.  He has a family; he has children.

The government told so many lies, and people 
believed them.  People think the government is 
giving us a very good severance package, and that 
we’re just fighting for the sake of fighting 
because we can’t get a job like everyone 
else.  In my case, I’m a computer engineer.  I’m 
still young and I can look for another job.  But 
there’s people who have spent there whole lives 
in Luz y Fuerza­they were educated there, as 
people and as workers.  They’re 45, 50 years 
old.  Where are they going to find work?

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