Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Urgent: SME Under Siege in Hidalgo, Violent Repression Feared

1,5000 Federal Police Have the Juandho Community Surrounded and are Raiding Houses, Town's Electricity Has Been Cut

by Kristin Bricker

[An update on the current situation in Juandho, Hidalgo, is available here.]

The town of Juandho, Hidalgo, has been under siege since yesterday, when members of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) hung strike banners on their former workplaces as part of the national strike in support of the SME.  The SME reports that the town's electricity went out last night.  During the night, hundreds of federal police arrived.  There are now between 1,000 and 1,500 federal police surrounding the town.  The police presence is overwhelming: Tetepango county, where the Juandho community is located, has about 9,000 residents.

At approximately 3am this morning, federal police began raiding houses in search of SME leaders.  SME Central Committee member Gregorio Paredes and his family are in hiding because federal police have burst into several homes looking for him.  SME members Diego Sánchez Mendoza, Sergio Mendoza Rivera, and Adrian Monroy Mejía have been detained and beaten.  The SME reports that dozens of people have been disappeared.

The SME's Secretary General, Martin Esparza, is from Juandho and his family lives there.

Tensions in Juandho began yesterday when SME members blockaded the the Luz y Fuerza complex in Juandho:
SME members and supporters blocked the entrance to the Juandho LyFC complex with piles of dirt.  According to El Universal, "This angered the federal police, leading to a confrontation."  The police fired tear gas and pepper spray at the crowd, and fired live rounds into the air.  El Universal reports that following the repression, approximately three police helicopters and 400 federal police arrived on the scene to drive back protesters.

Following the police repression, floodgates that guard a canal of raw sewage were opened, flooding the LyFC complex and the police inside.  At the time of publication, it has not been confirmed how the floodgates opened.  However, the flood seems to have incapacitated the police--reports from Juandho indicate that the SME still holds its blockade of the LyFC complex there.
Media and human rights organizations began to arrive in Juandho last night.  SME leaders are expected to arrive in Juandho today with representatives from the Mexican government's National Human Rights Commission.  The SME invites national and international human rights organizations, union leaders, and social and political organizations to come to Juandho "to mobilize and stop this miserable fascist policy of criminalizing electricians' just social struggle."  It also calls upon international supporters to hold emergency protests outside Mexican consulates and embassies.
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