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Protesters in Santo Domingo Zanatepec on Tuesday. Protesters in Santo Domingo Zanatepec on Tuesday.

Communities protest after CFE cuts power for unpaid bills

Some are wanting the same treatment as Tabasco, where 600,000 customers had their debts forgiven

Residents of two communities in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca detained two employees of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) on Tuesday to protest against the state-owned company’s decision to cut their power.

Accompanied by members of the National Guard, CFE personnel cut electricity supply in Cerro Grande and Reforma Agraria Integral, located in the municipality of San Francisco Ixhuatán, early Monday morning because both communities have unpaid electricity bills.

San Francisco Ixhuatán Mayor Florencio de la Cruz acknowledged that the two communities owe the CFE 210,000 pesos (US $10,500) and 20,000 pesos (US $1,000) respectively, but denounced the manner in which company workers acted.

“They came in like thieves in the night and by cutting off the power they cut the drinking water service as well. There was no prior notification,” he said.

Annoyed at having their power cut, about 50 residents from both communities traveled to CFE offices in the town of Santo Domingo Zanatepec on Tuesday to complain, and detained two employees for eight hours in the process.

Another group of people protested the same day at CFE offices in the Isthmus municipality of Matías Romero. Their protest was against what they described as excessively high electricity rates.

In light of the power cuts, about a dozen social organizations from Isthmus communities in Oaxaca, Veracruz and Chiapas declared they are on alert to prevent further disconnections. Some residents refuse to pay their electricity bills and insist that access to power and water are human rights that must be respected by the government, the newspaper El Universal said.

The social organizations issued a joint statement that called for an end to what they called an attack on their human rights.

“We publicly denounce the campaign of repression that the Federal Electricity Commission, with the participation of the National Guard, has unleashed against hundreds of Isthmus families who are fighting against the abuses and poor service of aforesaid company,” it said.

CFE representatives are due to meet with residents and officials in San Francisco Ixhuatán on Friday and locals, according to the mayor, will ask to be given a “clean slate” with regard to their debt, as has occurred for more than 600,000 customers in Tabasco.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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