Sunday, June 23, 2024

Former Mexicana employees removed from protest site at Mexico City airport

Mexicana stopped flying in 2010 and was declared bankrupt in 2014, but that didn’t stop some of the airline’s former employees from occupying the area around the old Mexicana check-in counter at Mexico City International Airport (AICM).

For nine years they’d been gathering there, demanding pension payments and letting travelers know of their plight. 

But it all came to a crashing halt on Friday when dozens of soldiers in riot gear, police officers and airport officials cordoned off the area and evicted the former employees.

When the navy showed up to enact the eviction at 2 a.m., only four former employees were there. Reportedly, they did not put up any resistance.

A 2018 protest by employees of the defunct airline in the Mexico City International Airport.
A 2018 protest by employees of the defunct airline in the Mexico City International Airport. AJTeam

“The government gave us a slap in the face because it hasn’t solved this injustice, and now it has left 70 families without a livelihood,” said Fausto Guerrero, president of the Association of Retirees, Workers and Ex-Employees of Mexicana Airlines (AJTeam).

Guerrero said some of them earned a bit of money “with the little that came from the cafeteria that we set up and from other services.”

In 2013 a year before Grupo Mexicana was declared bankrupt and three years after Mexicana Airlines, MexicanaClick and MexicanaLink stopped flying due to a heavy debt load workers took over the counter area and were able to put a few pesos in their pockets thanks to handouts from travelers. In 2015, they set up some tables and chairs and opened a kiosk that served coffee, drinks and snacks. Later, they added photocopying and other services. Several huge banners stating their plight and asking for donations were hung in the area.

All the while, they waited for the completion of legal processes that they hoped would pay pensions to some 700 workers.

A Mexicana Boeing 727 takes flight, in a photograph from 1998.
A Boeing 727 owned by defunct airline Mexicana takes flight, in a photo from 1998. Aero Icarus / Wikimedia CC BY-SA 2.0

Early Friday morning, the former workers could only sit idly by as all of their materials such as tables, chairs, a coffee urn, food containers, file cabinets and the kiosk itself were carted away. As it was happening, Guerrero took a shot at the administration of President López Obrador.

“Enrique Peña Nieto [Mexico’s president from 2012 to 2018] did not solve it, but at least he tolerated that we could keep ourselves [at the airport] because there we took turns to get resources,” Guerrero said. “Today the federal government does not tolerate [us] but does not solve it, either.

“We think that it is a truly unfair situation, especially with a government that calls itself leftist, that supports the poorest and that is against injustice,” he continued. “And now it takes away the little we had to keep resisting.”

The representative said there will be a meeting on Monday with the director of the AICM at which a light will be shined on the workers’ struggles.

Next to the area from which Mexicana’s ex-workers were evicted, one could see strike flags and cardboard signs being displayed by workers of Interjet. That low-cost airline was declared bankrupt on Tuesday, nearly two years after it stopped flying.

With reports from Reforma

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