The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) will cancel 11 billion pesos (US $577.6 million) in debt owed by more than 520,000 customers in Tabasco who joined a “civil resistance” movement against the public utility that began more than two decades ago.
Governor Adán Augusto López Hernández announced yesterday that his government had reached an agreement with the CFE for a “clean slate” to apply from June 1.
From that date, electricity customers in the 17 municipalities of the Gulf coast state will be charged “the lowest rate in the national electrical system,” he said.
The Morena party governor asserted that the deal called “Goodbye to Your Debt” represents the end of the “just and long-established complaint” of Tabasco residents about excessive electricity charges.
Speaking at an event attended by lawmakers and members of the business community, López said his government had been working on the agreement since the start of the year and that Tabasco native President López Obrador played an integral role.
“Without his support, this agreement, which is truly a historical achievement for Tabasco residents, would not have been possible,” he said.
But the president’s involvement goes deeper than that.
After running for governor of the state 25 years ago and losing the election, López Obrador called on his supporters to refuse to pay their CFE bills, property taxes and water bills and disclaim responsibility for paying financial obligations to banks and government as a protest against alleged electoral fraud.
The civil resistance movement he launched in 1995 has continued to this day.
Tabasco Governor López explained that electricity customers with debts they wish to wipe clean must go to a CFE office to enter into a new billing arrangement. Cancelation of debt does not extend to business customers, López added.
Verónica Hernández, an electricity customer who declared “civil resistance” 10 years ago, welcomed the news, stating that she stopped paying her bills because she couldn’t afford them.
Ángel Antonio Jiménez, a resident of the municipality of Jalapa, also said he was happy about the deal but questioned what the benefit would be for people who have kept up with their bills.
“Those who have paid punctually also expect to receive some other benefit apart from the new rate . . .” he said.
There are also large numbers of electricity customers who haven’t paid their bills for years in Mexico City, México state, Chiapas and Veracruz as part of the “civil resistance” movement, which began in 1995.
The CFE said in October that four of every 10 customers in the capital don’t pay their bills and that it has lost billions of pesos in revenue as a result.
Shortly after he won last year’s presidential election, López Obrador pledged that his government would cancel debts owed to the CFE by people in “civil resistance,” declaring they “will not pay a single peso.”