Waving signs saying "Don't Buy Gringo Products. Long live the Boycott," about 3,000 workers with Mexico's state-owned electrical utility blocked traffic on a major highway and then marched 3km to a vast colonial plaza in the city's centre on Friday.

Many protesters said they would take part in a boycott of all things "gringo" next week. Gringo is a derogatory term for English-speakers.

The proposed boycott, known as the Nothing Gringo campaign, is timed to coincide with Monday's Day Without Immigrants protest in the United States aimed at pushing forward a proposal for immigration reform including legalisation for many of the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants.

In Mexico, the boycott has also turned into a rallying cry for groups opposed to US economic influence south of the American border.

Solidarity

While the protest was called to express solidarity with a police raid on striking miners that killed two last week in a southern Mexican city, the protesters used the opportunity to express their anger at corporations and privatisations they say enslave Mexican workers for the sake of profit.

The protesters block an avenue
during a protest in Mexico City

The utility workers were joined by unionised social security system bureaucrats, nurses, rail drivers and even restaurant employees wearing their white chef hats.

In support of the protest, workers of Telefonos de Mexico, the country's dominant carrier, suspended service for several hours for a number Mexicans call to find out telephone numbers. Some international long distance service was also interrupted, union leaders said.

Protesters waved banners against the so-called "neoliberal" free market economic policies they blame for unchecked corporate-sponsored globalisation, and also carried signs urging the US Congress to come up with "a fair deal for the undocumented workers in the United States".