Mexico: Protests target banks


On March 3, thousands rallied outside the headquarters of the Association of Mexican Banks (AMB), in the centre of Mexico City, to denounce speculation, bank fees and the national government´s response to the economic crisis.

The rally was called by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). It is part of a two month "people's economy" campaign, which will culminate in a mobilisation of people from across the country in the centre of Mexico City.

Lopez Obrador was the PRD's presidential candidate in 2006, who was robbed of victory by a widely acknowledged large-scale fraud. He is popularly known as the "legitimate president" and the movement against the theft of the 2006 presidential elections was one of the largest in Mexican history, with demonstrations involving as many as 2.5 million people.

In front of a spirited crowd at AMB, Lopez Obrador denounced President Felipe Calderon, arguing that his cabinet should receive awards for ineptitude. He claimed the auction of more than US$20 million by the Bank of Mexico to stop the fall of the peso was "for the sake of powerful merchants".

The decisions taken by the government, he argued, "benefit bankers, big businessmen, traffickers and corrupt politicians who for their voraciousness are destroying this country".

The economic crisis is badly affecting working people in Mexico, with as many as 6000 workers losing their jobs per day.

Lopez Obrador and the PRD have been calling for the Calderon government to establish an emergency fund to address the crisis by reducing $200 billion of waste presently within the government.

Measures to eradicate waste include include reducing top government, administrative and judicial functionaries salaries by half, and eradicating the exorbitant pensions granted to ex-presidents.

The rally demanded four matters be addressed by the Calderon government and AMB. Firstly, a thorough-going investigation into the people, companies and banking institutions that buy cheap international reserves from the Bank of Mexico.

Secondly, Lopez Obrador denounced the abuses by the financial institutions against bank-users, and announced more support should be given to victims charged excessive rates on credit cards and mortgage rates.

Thirdly, Lopez Obrador condemned the fact that currently "banks do not perform a function that assists the development of the country".

On the contrary, "they charge commissions and interest over and above international standards, do not award credit to productive sectors and devote themselves to speculative behaviour and living off the treasury".

Finally, Lopez Obrador denounced the banks for "destroying to the country".