Mexico News and Analysis: January 11-17, 2010

1. Government rejects mediation with SME
2. 2,000 more federal police to Ciudad Juarez


1. Government rejects mediation with SME
The Calderon administration rejected efforts by a mediation commission to resolve the continuing impasse with the Electrical Workers Union (SME) over the closure of state-owned Central Light and Power (LFC).  The mediation commission, which included the Rector of the National Autonomous University, the former head of National Polytechnic Institute and the leaders of the three major parties in the Senate, announced the termination of its month-long efforts on Wednesday night.  The SME accepted the commission’s initial suggestions for good faith actions by both parties, ending public demonstrations for three days, while the federal government rejected the suggestions.  The Interior Secretary instead called for direct negotiations with the SME, a strategy that failed late last year after the Calderon administration insisted SME accept the closure of LFC as a pre-condition for talks.

The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), which took over administration of LFC after the Calderon administration closed the company last October 11, reported at least a half million customers without electricity in the State of Mexico.  The CFE blamed the outages on high winds, while SME workers cited continuing serious problems with subcontracted workers unfamiliar with the LFC’s aging equipment.

In related news, the National Workers Union (UNT), a coalition of progressive labor unions, called for a march on January 29 to protest recent price increases and high unemployment. 


2. 2,000 more federal police to Ciudad Juarez
On Wednesday, Secretary of Public Security Genaro Garcia committed an additional 2,000 federal police to Ciudad Juarez to “increase the capacity for new intelligence gathering and analysis.”  The new officers will supplement 8,000 army troops and federal police stationed in Ciudad Juarez since early last year.  Despite the massive presence, the city’s already high murder rate continues to climb as drug cartels battle for lucrative transshipment routes and control of the local police force.  City officials reported nearly 3,000 murders in 2009.