Sunday, September 7, 2008

More info on PEMEX privatization fight...

Below is more info on the struggle of Mexican workers to fight the privitization of PEMEX. See me first story on this here...

The first is from UE's Mexican Labor News & Anaylsis, put togther monthly by Mexican labor movement anaylst Dan Labotz. The second is from Alan Benjamin, Executive Board member of the San Francisco Central Labor Council and long time Mexican worker solidarity activist...

National Referendum on Privatization of Petroleum

The Mexican Congress has been carrying on an extraordinary debate over the last few months on the reform of the energy sector, or more specifically on the privatization of the petroleum industry. The government of President Felipe Calderón and his National Action Party (PAN), together with much of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) have been pushing for the privatization of petroleum.

Many believe that the left has won the debate against privatization, though the right may still have the votes to move ahead with at least part of its plan. Now the Mexican people will have an opportunity to express themselves on the matter through a consulta or referendum on the issue. Such popular referenda were popularized by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in the late 1990s when as many as one million participated in its unofficial consultations.

The “Legitimate Government” Promotes Referendum

Promoted by the “Legitimate Government” of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and supported by his left-of-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and by the alliance of left parties known as the Broad Progressive Front (FAP), the referendum will ask voters: 1) Do you believe that private business should now be allowed to participate in the petroleum business; 2) In general, do you agree or disagree with the energy reform now being debated in Congress.

The Mexican Congress and the Federal Electoral Institute refused to carry out the referendum, arguing that it has no basis in the Mexican Constitution or in Mexican law. In Mexico City, the referendum will be organized and carried out with the support of the PRD government there. Throughout the rest of the country it will be an entirely voluntary affair organized by groups almost entirely opposed to the privatization of petroleum.

Voting in Three Stages

The overall organizer of the Consulta is Manuel Camacho Solís, a PRD politician and the former mayor of Mexico City. Lending their experience and their weight to the referendum will be two civil society organizations: the Civic Alliance (AC) and Civic Proposal (PC) which will act as citizen observers.

The referendum will be carried out in three stages, with Mexico City and the central states of Mexico voting on July 27; the southeastern states and a couple of others voting on August 10; and the northern and western states voting on August 24.

Labor, Feminists to participate in Referendum

The National Union of Workers (UNT), an independent labor federation, declared that its affiliates will promote the referendum in the first stage in Mexico City and consult with its member organizations about participating in the provincial referenda. “The Alliance of Streetcar Workers (ATM) has taken the lead in organizing for the referendum and the UNT will follow its example,” said UNT leader Hernandez Juárez. The National Coordinating Committee of the Mexican Teachers Union (la CNTE) also pledged to mobilize its members to support the consulta.

Feminist organizations will participate in the consulta too, according to Axela Romero Cárdenas, general director of Integral Health for Women (SIPAM).

From UE’s Mexican Labor News & Analysis, July , 2008, Vol. 13, No. 7. See the following link…

Mexicans Issue Resounding "NO" to Oil Privatization in First of Three

Stages of Referendum Organized by López Obrador and MNDP


On Sunday, July 27, more than 2 million people in Mexico City and nine states in Mexico's central region cast their votes in a nationwide referendum (or "Consulta Nacional") organized by Mexico's legitimate president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and the Movement in Defense of Mexico's Oil Resources (MNDP).

This was the first stage of a three-stage referendum in which voters were asked two questions: (1) Did they support having private companies participate in the exploitation, distribution, storage and refining of Mexico's oil production, and (2) did they support the energy reform proposals submitted by Felipe Calderón to the Mexican Congress on April 6, 2008.

The preliminary results of the vote gave a resounding "NO" to both questions, with 84.7% of the voters saying "NO" to question no. 1 and 82.9% saying "NO" to question no. 2. The second stage of the referendum, in the southern states of Mexico, will be held August 10. The third stage, in the north, will be held August 24.

A total of 5,585 voting booths were set up in Mexico City and 7,390 booths in the nine states of Veracruz, Tlaxcala, Estado de México, San Luis Potosí, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Michoacán, Baja California Sur and Morelos. All were staffed by volunteers and legal notaries, who verified the voters' credential cards and certified that the votes were conducted cleanly. Only two minor incidents were reported in which PAN supporters sought to prevent voters from getting to the polling places.

MNDP spokespersons stated that this was a great day for democracy and sovereignty for Mexico. They also denounced the fraudulent government of Felipe Calderón for refusing to conduct a binding and official nationwide referendum, as the MNDP had proposed to the Mexican Congress. And they decried the unrelenting media campaign against the "Consulta Nacional."

"Despite the torrential rains throughout central Mexico, which kept a large number of people from getting to the voting booths, especially in the shantytowns and the countryside where the roads are not paved; despite our limited funds; and despite the media barrage against us, the first stage of the Consulta Nacional went ahead as planned -- and it was an overwhelming success," stated López Obrador.

Major Roadblock: Quest for Agreement Between PAN, PRI and PRD

In a press statement issued the day after the referendum vote, López Obrador explained why completing the three phases of this Referendum is so vital to the people of Mexico.

"Over the last 25 years," López Obrador noted, "the successive Mexican governments -- without consulting the people -- have proceeded to privatize countless government services and public enterprises. This has caused untold harm to the people, especially to the poor. We cannot -- and we will not -- allow more poverty, unemployment, frustration, violence, and destruction of our country. That is why we will not allow our oil resources to be privatized. ... The will of the people must be heard. It will be heard!"

One of the main roadblocks facing this movement of national resistance is an agreement that is in the works between the top leaders of the PRI (the oldest institutional party of the ruling class in Mexico), the PAN (the party of current impostor Felipe Calderón) ... and the PRD (or Revolutionary Democratic Party, the institutional party to which López Obrador belongs).

On July 22, two days after the 13-session debate on the energy "reform" concluded in the Mexican Senate, PRI Senator Manlio Fabio Beltrones submitted to the Mexican Congress an "alternative energy reform plan" which, he claimed vehemently, was not a "privatizing plan" insofar as it "differs on 10 points with the plan submitted on April 6 by Calderón and the PAN."

Immediately, Calderón's minister of Energy, Georgina Kessel, welcomed this "alternative" proposal by the PRI, insisting that "there are more points of convergence than disagreement" and that "[she] and the Calderón government are open to finding common ground and a common reform plan with all the political parties in Mexico that genuinely wish to modernize Mexico's ailing energy system."

The following week, the interim president of the PRD, Guadalupe Acosta Naranjo, met with top leaders of the PRI and PAN to discuss the possibility of submitting a "reform plan" to the Mexican Congress in the name of the PRI, the PAN ... and the PRD. A brief joint statement was issued by the three political parties announcing that "great progress [had] been made to come up with an energy reform plan that unites the country."

Acosta Naranjo insisted in a press conference that the PRI proposal "is not a privatizing proposal." He said that the PRD would present its own alternative proposal with the goal of reaching an agreement in the Congress. "We need to come up with a common solution," he said. "We must not further divide the country and provoke both internal and foreign confrontation." He also warned that no single party -- not the PRI, not the PAN, not the PRD -- has the "sufficient strength to impose its vision or its particular plan. It will be necessary to compromise."

And Acosta Naranjo seized this occasion to slam López Obrador and the MNDP, stating that "now that the debates are over, it is necessary for the Congress to take action. It is time for all of us to act responsibly." His aim was clear -- to pressure López Obrador and his supporters to back off -- to capitulate -- in the name of finding a "compromise solution."

Acosta Naranjo's words were echoed by Jesus Ortega, the main leader of the "leadership caucus" of the PRD. "There will be no more Congressional takeovers, Ortega stated, referring to the 18-day takeover in April by dissident PRD legislators of both houses of Congress to prevent the fast-track vote on Calderón's energy package. "We will not participate in any further acts of civil disobedience. ... Now it is time for a vote to be taken by the elected representatives of the Mexican people."

López Obrador Slams the Door on Any "Alternative" Plan Involving PRI and PAN

But López Obrador and the main leaders of the MNDP did not mince their words in response to the joint declaration by the PRI, the PAN and the PRD -- and in response to the "Chucho" leadership wing of the PRD. (The term "Chuchos" comes from the nickname in Spanish of "Jesus" -- Ortega's first name.)

"The Beltrones-PRI so-called alternative plan is a carbon copy of the PAN proposals," López Obrador stated. "The plan is unacceptable in any form. The so-called 'differences' are of no significance; it is an alternative that would do the same thing as the Calderón plan -- that is, turn our oil resources over to private, mainly foreign, interests."

López Obrador continued, "The PRI, the PAN and the PRD can have all the leadership meetings they want, but the final decision will rest on the outcome of the referendum. ... If they fail to respect the vote of the people as expressed through the three stages of the 'Consulta Nacional,' we will not sit back idly. We are prepared. We will mobilize nationwide. We will not permit the politicians to privatize our oil and destroy our nation."

MNDP National Coordinator Claudia Sheinbaum issued a detailed statement in which she analyzed point by point the Beltrones Plan, showing how on all essential questions it is a copy of the Calderón proposals. She concluded by calling the Beltrones plan a "pan con lo mismo" -- or "bread with the same ole same ole ...", a play on words, as the acronym of Calderón's party also means bread in Spanish.

López Obrador and the MNDP coordinators insist that the Mexican people must have the final say in the outcome of this "energy reform" debate. Nothing, they insist, can stand in the way of allowing the people to express their vote in all three phases of the "Consulta Nacional" -- so that the people can express their rejection of any and every country-selling plan.

Responding to press reports according to which the PAN, PRI and PRD leaderships appear to be gearing toward presenting a "consensus" reform plan as soon as the Congress reconvenes on September 1, López Obrador fired back:

"We will not allow foreign masters to take over the destiny and resources of our country. The only master here are the people. If the PRI and the PAN go ahead and seek to impose a vote in the Congress, we will be ready. We will call upon the Mexican people to mobilize in mass protest actions. There will be huge mobilizations across Mexico. There will be actions of peaceful civil resistance to prevent the privatization of Pemex and our oil resources."

López Obrador further stated that the resistance movement's Action Plan would be announced shortly after the August 24 referendum.

"A National March on Mexico City Is Needed" -- PTDI

For its part, the Democratic Independent Workers Party of Mexico (PTDI), which has campaigned actively in support of the MNDP's "VOTE NO" campaign in the three phases of the "Consulta Nacional," issued a statement on July 29 calling for a National Mass March to Mexico City in the event the mainstream ruling class parties go ahead and present their energy privatization to the Mexican Congress. The PTDI, a new multi-tendency party, is affiliated with the International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples (ILC) and supports its international campaigns.

The PTDI Declaration No. 42 states, in part:

"On July 27, the 'NO to Privatization' vote was overwhelming. It was a vote of rejection of the privatization proposals presented by Calderón, but it was also a vote of rejection of Beltrones of the PRI. ...

"There are two camps here: One the one hand, there are those who defend the nation (the majority of the workers and people); on the other hand there are those who seek to turn our oil wealth over to the interests of the multinational corporations (the PRI, PAN, Green Party, Televisa, Carlos Slim, and all those who would seek to reach a 'consensus' with the oligarchs). ...

"The political situation calls for preparing a National March to Mexico City to stop the takeover of our oil resources:

"This political situation also raises the following question: What kind of political organization is needed to assist the working people of Mexico to safeguard their interests?"

And the PTDI Declaration went on to invite Mexico's working people, peasants, shantytown dwellers and youth to participate in a forum on August 2nd in Mexico City called by sectors of the PRD, the trade unions and popular organizations to discuss, together with the PTDI, the question of building a new political organization of Mexico's working people and the oppressed. [See Letter of Invitation to August 2 Meeting below.]

One thing is clear as these lines are written: Revolution and counterrevolution in Mexico are about to face off in the coming weeks and months. The battle lines have been drawn.

"The Nation Is Not For Sale, Pemex Must Be Defended!

("La Patria No Se Vende; Pemex Se Defiende!")

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