[QODLink]
Americas

Thousands rally against Mexico oil reforms

More than 40,000 people march in Mexico City to reject plans to overhaul tax system and privatisation of energy sector.

Last Modified: 09 Sep 2013 05:30
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Tens of thousands of people have rallied against President Enrique Pena Nieto's economic reforms in Mexico's capital, with leftist leader calling for peaceful resistance.

Mexico City police said more than 40,000 people gathered in a park on Sunday’s demonstration to reject plans to overhaul the tax system and open the country's state-controlled oil industry to foreign investors.

"We can prevent the privatisation of the energy sector and the tax increases through peaceful citizen mobilization," said opposition leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who never recognised his defeat to Pena Nieto in the 2012 presidential election after claiming fraud.

"These energy and tax reforms were prepared abroad for the benefit of foreign companies, a commitment that Pena Nieto made with foreign companies in the United States and Britain," he said.

He called the oil reform a "vile and shameful robbery".

Lopez Obrador made his plea as Pena Nieto prepared to present a revamp of the tax system to increase the government's revenue stream amid reports that he may propose a controversial sales tax for food and medicine.

President backs reforms

The Mexican president, who took office in December last year, has struck a pact with rival leftist and conservative parties that have secured telecommunications and education reforms despite protests by teachers.

Last Monday, he defended his reforms and urged Mexicans to back the "grand transformation" of the country, stressing that the overhaul was necessary to improve education, create jobs and improve a slowing economy.

Pena Nieto says the energy shifts aim to allow private firms to enter into profit-sharing agreements with state-run giant Pemex to modernise the company, but he denies plans to privatise an industry that was nationalised 75 years ago.

"They want to sell it, but the government is our employee. We, the Mexican people, are the owners," said Alberto Castro Gonzalez, a 45-year-old teacher who attended the demonstration.

With Pena Nieto having a deal with rival parties to pass the reforms in Congress, Lopez Obrador said: "The only thing that can stop these measures, which are contrary to the nation's interests, is citizens mobilising."

But despite holding several protests that have disrupted life in the metropolis of 20 million people in the past three weeks, the teachers ultimately failed to block Pena Nieto's education reform.

376

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.