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Cablegate: Results of Sme National Protest: How Will It End?

VZCZCXRO3098
PP RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #3371/01 3341808
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301808Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9207
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQS USNORTHCOM
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 003371

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/MEX, WHA/EPSC, EB/IFD/OMA, AND DRL/AWH
STATE PASS TO DOL ILAB CRISPIN RIGBY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ELAB PREL PGOV MX
SUBJECT: RESULTS OF SME NATIONAL PROTEST: HOW WILL IT END?

A: Mexico 2865
B. Mexico 2933
C. Mexico 2978
D. Mexico 3200

1. (SBU) Summary: The much anticipated Sindicato Mexicano de
Electricistas (SME) national protest took place as planned on
November 11, causing significant traffic complications in the Mexico
City area. Sympathizers demonstrated in around 25 states with
activities and participation ranging from impressive to symbolic.
Mexico City officials estimate that crowds reached around 100,000,
but a definitive count is difficult to ascertain because of the
12-hour length and geographic dispersion of activities. Martin
Esparza, ex-secretary general of the SME, proclaimed the protest a
success and called for a national strike sometime before December.
As of the November 14 cut-off date, more than 60% of former Luz y
Fuerza del Centro (LFC) workers had accepted the government's
severance package. The government's reaction to future SME protests
will likely be less tolerant of inconveniences to third parties and
interruptions to the flow of business. End Summary.

Limited National Impact
-----------------------
2. (SBU) In Mexico City the Asamblea Nacional de Resistencia Popular
(ANRP), the SME's umbrella organization for rallying support,
produced a crowd of around 100,000 people from at least 34 different
social, labor, and student groups including the diocese of Saltillo,
university workers and students, Mujeres Libres, Andres Manuel Lopez
Obrador's movement, and the tram workers' union. The Partido
Revolucionario Democratico (PRD) and other left-leaning political
parties sent representatives. By far the largest contingent came
from the Sindicato de Telefonistas de la Republica Mexicana (STRM)
who turned out in great numbers throughout the country to support
the SME.

3. (SBU) The ANRP movement was intended to provoke a day of
protests and solidarity around the country. Esparza stated that
mobilizations took place in 31 states while other sources claim that
there were significant activities in 18. By far the most important
protests were in Puebla and Hidalgo where LFC had provided services
and jobs and in Oaxaca where 70,000 dissident teachers marched in
solidarity. Elsewhere around the country, protesters numbered in the
hundreds. In most of the states, protesters combined concerns about
the national budget or industry-specific issues with demonstrations
of solidarity with SME. Telephone workers combined solidarity with
the SME with their own issues: the right to offer the "triple play"
package of phone, TV, and internet services and in protest of the 3%
increase in the telecommunications tax. Telephone workers who
protested did so in spite of Telmex owner Carlos Slim's statement
that the day would be counted against anyone who failed to report to
work. In some states, demonstrators blocked access to the Comision
Federal de Electricidad (CFE) buildings to protest CFE's takeover of
LFC.

Mostly Peaceful Activities
--------------------------
4. (SBU) While disruptive, the ANRP march on November 11 was
largely peaceful. Protesters limited themselves to the activities
planned by the ANRP and never seemed to lose sight of the need for
support from the public. Sparking some controversy, protesters
carried the standard of the Virgin of Guadalupe with them in the
march alongside their pro-LFC placards. Caravans of slow-moving
vehicles choked traffic in affluent residential neighborhoods and
blocked internal traffic arteries. One of the clearly unsuccessful
activities of the national protest from the SME point of view was
the failure of Mexico City to put out the lights between 7.30 and
9.30 PM. Sources close to the energy secretary and CFE claim to have
noticed very little difference in usage. The only violence reported
came from the marchers' occupation of tollbooths on five major
highway entrances to Mexico City. ANRP supporters closed tollbooths
and allowed motorists to pass without paying on three highways. On
the Mexico-Cuernavaca highway, police used teargas to break up the
protest. On the Mexico-Queretaro highway a confrontation sent 22
people to the hospital with slight injuries and left eleven
protesters under arrest.

Results of the March - ANRP and GOM
-----------------------------------
5. (SBU) Esparza said he was pleased with the protest and the
support the ANRP received and that the national strike will take
place before December. The GOM declared itself supportive of
citizens' rights to protest and express themselves but suggested
that it will be much less tolerant of interruptions to the rights of
other citizens in the future. After the November 11 protest, the
rate of former LFC workers accepting severance increased, and by the
November 14 cutoff, 62% of former LFC workers had accepted

MEXICO 00003371 002 OF 002


severance. Esparza disputes this number, stating that his own
figures are much lower. The GOM countered that their numbers are
auditable and a matter for the public record. CFE has begun the
process of rehiring some of the LFC workers who have accepted
severance. Workers who join CFE will receive a stipend and a
transportation bonus during two months of training. CFE is expected
to offer contracts to 1000 workers by the end of November.

Changes in the Courts
---------------------
6. (SBU) Meanwhile, the SME's struggle to regain its existence is
moving through the legal system. The SME achieved an important
victory early in its legal battle when a judge ruled that the Junta
Federal de Conciliacion y Arbitraje (JFCA) could not make a ruling
on the case until all lawsuits had been settled in the courts. Since
then, however, the SME has received less favorable decisions. On
November 11, the president of the Supreme Court declared that
Article 97 of the Mexican Constitution only allows the president,
the National Congress, governors, and courts to bring a request for
the creation of a special commission to investigate the legality of
the liquidation of LFC, a petition originally brought by the SME.
The judge did, however, decide to allow other court justices to
review the petition, citing the cases of the Guarderia ABC of
Hermosillo and San Salvador Atenco as precedent. Also on November
11, a different Supreme Court judge threw out the petition presented
by the Legislative Assembly of the Distrito Federal (ALDF), again
citing the impropriety of the source of the petition. Although no
hearing dates have been published, this is a high-profile series of
cases, and the courts are likely to continue processing SME cases
quickly.

The End Is Near?
----------------
7. (SBU) Comment: Both the SME and the GOM are reaching the point
where something has to give. Both sides remain committed to their
positions. The GOM has infinitely more resources at its disposal,
and though its public relations campaign has lost its novelty and
polish, the SME's public support is not increasing. The SME
continues to produce so-called evidence of the GOM's villainy and to
insist on a complete reversal of the decision; it strives to
demonstrate the culpability of the GOM in the management of LFC and
to redeem the reputation of the ex-LFC workers. While the marches
and the protests are examples of social engagement and a reading of
the state of Mexican social cohesion, the real legacy of this
situation will come out of the courts and from the nature of the end
of the struggle. Since 2000 the Supreme Court has steadily increased
its independence from the governing party and has become less
predictable and more rigorous in its rulings. If the SME can put
together a case worthy of hearing in the courts, the ruling could
have far-reaching implications for both the GOM and unions in
Mexico. End comment.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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