Photo: Mexico City
Thousands of peasants, workers, university students and unemployed people took to the streets of Mexico City to demand that the government provide more resources to farmers, guarantee the provision of food and boost job creation.
The protesters also called for economic and political changes to improve Mexicans’ lives, as well as for action to fight crime.
The “National March to Change the Economic, Political and Social Direction of the Country” took place Tuesday in Mexico City.
The protesters marched down Paseo de la Reforma, the capital’s most iconic avenue, and gathered at the Zocalo, Mexico City’s main plaza, where labor leaders delivered addresses to the crowd.
Protest leaders called for talks with the government to deal with “the food emergency” and find solutions to the problem of joblessness.
“The shortage of basic foods and the spike in prices are devastating the urban dwellers who consume these goods daily,” National Peasants Confederation, or CNC, president Gerardo Sanchez said.
“Food sovereignty and national security are threatened today like never before,” the CNC leader said.
The government should welcome talks “that lead to consensus (and) agreements, and that are complied with like the Integrated Plan to Deal with the Drought signed a week ago,” Sanchez said.
Other speakers called on officials to deal with the high crime rate in an effective manner.
The government should “work seriously and immediately on the issue of organized crime and lack of security,” telecommunications workers union leader Francisco Hernandez Juarez said.
The government said Tuesday that 2.5 million people affected by the drought that started last May had received assistance.
The drought, one of the worst to hit Mexico in decades, is affecting about 40 percent of the country.
President Felipe Calderon has vowed to do everything within the government’s power to help those suffering from the drought.
Last week, Calderon ordered the disbursement of 33.82 billion pesos (about $2.5 billion) to help states in central and northern Mexico affected by the drought.
The funds will be used to fix and improve the systems that supply water to residents of drought-stricken areas, as well as to provide food to communities affected by the natural disaster.
An additional 20,000 food packages will be provided to residents of Chihuahua, one of the states hit the hardest by the drought, officials said.
A total of 250,000 high-protein food packages have already been handed out and the government plans to ensure that food is available in the 19 states hit by the drought.
The drought has ravaged Indian communities in Chihuahua’s Sierra Tarahumara, destroying crops and forcing thousands of peasants to leave their ancestral lands and head to the cities