GUATEMALA CITY – Thousands of Guatemalan peasants blocked Friday a border crossing with Mexico in protest against the constant power outages in parts of the western province of San Marcos.
The demonstrators, more than 5,000 according to media outlets, blocked vehicle and pedestrian traffic on the border at El Carmen, which connects San Marcos with the Mexican state of Chiapas, demanding that the Spanish-owned utility Union Fenosa get service back to normal.
Union Fenosa spokesman Hector Salvatierra told Efe that service had not been suspended intentionally but that “power lines are overloaded because groups of settlers in the area have kept employees from checking the lines and servicing them.”
He said that for more than a year a group calling itself Frena has illegally exercised “complete control” of power lines serving the municipalities of San Pablo, El Carmen, Catalina, Malacatan and El Rodeo, and is charging residents for supplying them with electricity.
“More than 60,000 households have taken the bait and have paid these people, which has cost Union Fenosa losses of more than 70 million quetzales (nearly $1 million), since those affected have stopped paying their bills,” Salvatierra said.
By order of Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom, a contingent of riot police was sent to the area to open up the border crossing, so that employees of the Union Fenosa subsidiary Deocsa can service the power lines and reestablish connections with the regulation service. EFE