VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico – Some people camped out overnight to be at the front of the line on Monday to apply for jobs building an oil refinery that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has made a signature project of his administration.
The federal and Tabasco state governments announced last week the hiring of up to 20,000 people, including electricians, engineers and mechanics, to construct the refinery in the Gulf coast port of Dos Bocas.
Entire families stood in a line that extended 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the Tabasco state fairgrounds in Villahermosa to the nearby village of Bosques de Saloya.
Roughly 6,000 jobseekers obtained applications in the first four hours.
Victorico Cruz, an industrial engineer who has been unemployed for eight months, said that he sees the refinery project as signaling a revival of economic activity throughout southeastern Mexico.
“We come from Choapas, Veracruz, roughly three hours away. We are more than 50 comrades who organized ourselves to get here,” he told EFE. “We have many hopes, not just in the job aspect, but that there will be a reactivation of employment for the southeast of the Republic.”
The organizers of the job fair said they were surprised by the number of people who showed up.
“We did not expect such a large flow of people, but as we can see, it’s more than 10,000 people,” Michel Garcia said.
Six members of the Gomez Rabelo made the trip to Villahermosa from Coatzacoalcos in Veracruz state.
Though all of them have been out of work for the last six months, they expressed confidence about the chances of at least one family member securing employment on the Dos Bocas project.
“We hope to find a job here, we have great hope because we traveled a long time to get here,” Valentin Gomez Rabelo told EFE.
Lopez Obrador, who took office last December, announced on Sunday that work would begin soon on a seventh refinery for state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).
The government had sought bids for the contract to build the facility, but the president said last month that the tender was scrapped because none of the bids met the requirements.
Instead, he said, the refinery will be built under the direction of the Energy Secretariat in coordination with Pemex.
The plan calls for the refinery to be completed in 2022 – the final year of Lopez Obrador’s term – at a total cost of $8 billion.
Building the Dos Bocas refinery, with a capacity to process 340,000 barrels per day of crude oil, represents “the start of the fourth national transformation,” according to the president.
Mexico, a major oil-exporting nation, is forced to import gasoline due to a lack of refining capacity.