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Labor Day marches turn into party rallies

May 7, 2012

Marching with placards, banners, colorful hats and other political propaganda, more than 40,000 union members took to the streets of Guadalajara to mark Dia del Trabajo on May 1.

With national, state and municipal elections on the horizon, it was perhaps inevitable that the demonstrations took on a partisan nature.

Former Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador received the backing of unions in Mexico City, but it was the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidates who led the protests in Guadalajara.

The PRI’s candidate for governor of Jalisco, Jorge Aristoteles Sandoval Diaz, appeared before the crowd at the intersection of Avenida Juarez and Pavo. He was joined by the party’s mayoral candidates for Guadalajara, Zapopan, Tonala and Tlaquepaque.

If the march appeared to be a thinly veiled political rally in favor of the PRI, this impression was only reinforced when the Mexican Workers Confederation (CTM) union leader, Joaquin Gamboa Pascoe, pledged his support for presidential frontrunner Enrique Peña Nieto.

“Recent governments have been enemies of the working class and, consequently, the national project. They were puppets of foreigners; they deprive their people of our natural resources and subject us to increasingly precarious conditions like a new form of slavery. It is imperative to change the economic model, the current one has proved to be a failure,” said Cuauhtemoc Peña, leader of the General Federation of Workers of the State and Municipalities (FGTEM).

“CROC members want a strong party, ready and willing to manage with experience and intelligence,” said Antonio Alvarez Esparza, secretary general of the Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Peasants (CROC) in Jalisco.

“The challenge is to maintain formal employment and reduce unemployment,” he added. There are 180,907 unemployed people and over 885,214 working informally in Jalisco, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI).

Meanwhile, Salvador Cuevas Acuña, the president of the western branch of the Mexican Foreign Trade Council (Comce), called for a higher minimum wage, describing current salaries as “unacceptable.”

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