Continental protests to support Mexican workers’ resistance
Published Jun 25, 2012 7:22 AM
Cheryl LaBash interviewed Benjamin Prado from Unión del Barrio for Workers World newspaper. Unión del Barrio is a member of the Coordinating Group of ESNA (Encuentro Sindical Nuestra América), which held its fifth continental meeting in Mexico City from May 21 to 23.
In 2009, the Mexican government used 27,000 armed federal agents to seize Luz y Fuerza, the power provider for Mexico City and central Mexico, forcing more than 40,000 members of the Mexican Electrical Workers union [Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas] from their jobs. The attack on the militant independent union is part of a broader capitalist offensive against Mexican workers — including the miners in Cananea, airline workers and teachers — which has been intensified by the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Representatives of SME have explained their struggle throughout the U.S. and brought formal complaints under NAFTA regulations. The union has organized mass mobilizations and occupations of the Mexico City central square [the Zócalo]. Unity across borders is essential to turning back capitalism’s globalized war on workers.
WW: What is planned for June 26?
Prado: On June 26, workers from throughout the continent will convene in front of the Mexican embassies and consulates to demonstrate solidarity with the Mexican working class and their unions to protest a terrorist policy of state repression against workers and their organizations. These demonstrations will also demand an end to existing labor disputes that involve the Mexican Electrical Workers, the Miners, the Democratic Teachers Union from the National Coordination of Educational Workers and the Mexicana de Aviación [airline] workers.
This call also calls for the release of 12 political prisoners, all members of the Mexican Electrical Workers, who have been in detention for fighting for their rights to keep their union jobs.
WW: Why is it important?
Prado: The June 26 call is an expression of solidarity among the class-conscious working class of Nuestra [Our] América, meant to stand in unity with concrete actions opposing the neoliberal policies that the international financial oligarchy is attempting to impose on working peoples everywhere. This expression of solidarity with the Mexican working class is intended to send a message that an attack on one sector of the working class is an attack on all workers everywhere. This provides an opportunity for workers — beyond national boundaries — to stand united against this all-out assault on the right to work.
In addition, the significance of this action prior to the July 1 election is testimony to the need for fundamental political change in Mexico. It is a demonstration of support for Mexican workers who are demanding an end to the fascistic PAN-PRI political parties that have imposed the free trade policies — as exemplified by NAFTA – which have condemned millions of workers to unemployment, underemployment or informal work with no social protections, to living a precarious economic and social existence.
WW: Where did it originate?
Prado: The proposal for a continental day of action was presented to the delegates of the Fifth ESNA, which was held in Mexico City from May 21 to 23. At this gathering, more than 400 Mexican delegates and 200 other delegates, representing more than 20 countries, came together to debate and discuss capitalism’s impact on workers in the region. Their goal was to find unity in thought and action in response to the capitalist offensive that attempts to strip every last right from workers and promote the accumulation of wealth into the hands of a small number of transnational corporations and individuals.
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