Andrés Manuel López Obrador has invited this morning the 22 Pemex candidates who will appear in the union elections of the state oil company on January 31 to present their programs in the National Palace for three minutes each in one of the conferences morning. The tentative date that the president has launched for this has been January 15. These elections, like so many others in the Mexican union sphere, are under permanent suspicion of corruption, despite the fact that on this occasion measures have been articulated to make them as clean as possible. A legal reform inspired by collective bargaining and mechanisms to vote freely and secretly try to guarantee transparency in the largest state-owned company, with nearly 100,000 employees. But the doubts are many.
The president has assured that there is no reason why these elections should not give the result at the polls that the workers have decided. Freedom is not implored, it is conquered, and the caciques last until the people want. Furthermore, as Hidalgo said and Juárez repeated, the people that want to be free will be. I add: it is going to guarantee that the elections are fair and free, it is in the hands of the workers if they want to maintain the same system or change. And no excuses, because they threatened me, or is it that a leaflet has already arrived where they say that if I do not vote for Doe or Mengano, I must face the consequences, because there are all that, threats, intimidation, “he acknowledged. López Obrador. The Government “is going to take care of that process,” the president has guaranteed.
But nothing is that simple in a country where union life has been heavily burdened with corruption for decades. The enormous shadow of Carlos Romero Deschamps, the former union leader, resigned two years after the indictments of the Prosecutor’s Office, continues to hover over the oil company. Several candidates complained of having been unfairly fired to remove them from the union process, and those related to Romero Deschamps prevailed in the local sections, in November, prior to the general election. One of the applicants, Fred Navarro, then told this newspaper: “You realize that you are alone against the monster.”
López Obrador has insisted that the Government will not participate under the table in these elections, as has traditionally happened in Mexico, but that it will ensure that the process is democratic. Voting in an electronic ballot box, that is, not in person, has been one of the mechanisms implemented so that workers feel comfortable. Despite everything, the Secretary of Labor has received numerous complaints of cheating in the process leading up to these elections. Navarro has been fired after a suspicious investigation for abandonment of work before the established schedule. He had been working for the oil company for 19 years.
The Oil Workers Union of the Mexican Republic (STPRM), with its 89,000 members, won half of the local sections in a face-to-face vote, in some cases unanimously, without any ballot in favor of the ruling party dissidents. And some applicants had to drop out after most of the workers on their roster – dozens of them – dropped out.
Trade unionism in Mexico is one of the pending issues to achieve a full democracy. For decades, collusion with political power has been the tonic of the unions, powerful machines of mandatorily affiliated workers that were the key to winning political elections. Thousands, millions of people carried in the rallies and of wills bought to cast their vote in favor of one or the other president. This has been the case with the most powerful unions, such as teachers or oil unions, among others. And some of its leaders have ended up being prosecuted by justice or in jail when the incumbent president dropped them. Until then, they had racked up unheard of fortunes, private jets, works of art, and anything else unthinkable for a union leader.
Romero Deschamps has been one of the chiefs who best exemplifies union political collusion. For years he combined his position at Pemex with a position in the Senate or the Chamber of Deputies for the PRI. His ostentatious life is linked to shell companies in tax havens and an absolute lack of transparency with the funds that the union received from the oil company. Indicated for illicit enrichment and triangulation of resources, the powerful leader is under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office. He resigned in 2019, but his replacement, Raúl Limón, remained in the oil company, about whom workers now have the same suspicions of interference in the upcoming labor elections.
That is the reason that President López Obrador has promised to give them a three-minute space in their morning, so that they present their ideas, “without questions, so that they do not get nervous” and say what they consider convenient: strike in the oil company, continue as they were until now or advocate for change, whatever they want. “This is not going to be the dock for the accused, it will only be for them to report” freely “, because not everyone” has money for propaganda. “
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