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Mexican citizens from all over the country took to the streets yesterday, in protest at the forced closure of a state-run energy company. The Mexican Electrical Workers’ Union, which represents many of the employees of the affected Compañia de Luz y Fuerza del Centro (CLyFC), yesterday declared a “state of emergency”, with the promise of a mass protest this Thursday in Mexico City aiming to attract over 100,000 people.
Federal Police seized the offices of CLyFC on Sunday, on the orders of the national government. Currently it provides employment to around 40,000 workers, as well as power supplies to a further 25 million citizens in Mexico City and three central states.
The dispute over the closure has split the nation, with unions and leftist politicians fighting to safeguard workers’ jobs in the wake of the global economic crisis. Mexico has been one of the worst-affected nations due to its economic ties with the US, with figures released at the end of September highlighting an unemployment rate of nearly 7%, and an economy which shrank over 10% in the second quarter of this year.
Government politicians, on the other hand, argue that the CLyFC was inefficient, badly-managed and an economic liability, with losses of some US$1.85m in the period 2003-08. President Felipe Calderon argued that the firm faced “An unsustainable financial situation”, and could not continue to function without more money from taxpayers.
At the time of writing, armed soldiers remain outside CLyFC plants and installations, guarding against any possible attempts at sabotage or damage. Meanwhile, in anticipation of the mass mobilisation expected this Thursday in the capital, government minister Fernando Gomez Mont implored protesters to vent their anger within the limits of the law; “We ask of everyone that we conduct ourselves in a peaceful, respectful and serious manner, that we recognise and treat each other with dignity and respect,” he stated.