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Sunday, October 1, 2023

García Ginerés residents preparing massive blockade to protest power outages

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
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Protests in García Ginerés over the issue of power outages are nothing new but may be about to take on a much larger scope. Photo: Mark Callum for Yucatán Magazine

The rain storms that have hit Mérida over the past couple of days brought with them power outages that affected virtually the entire city.

These interruptions to the power supply have been worse in some areas than others — with one of the worst hits being García Ginerés, which lost power for several hours on both days. 

Fed-up residents of the neighborhood are said to be planning to blockade Calle 22 and Avenida Colon to demand answers from the CFE. They say their complaints have fallen on deaf ears. 

“This is getting insane. There has been a power cable just lying on the street for 15 hours now on the corner of Colon and Calle 6. Instead of fixing the problem, they are simply redirecting traffic. We need to do something, or else someone will end up hurt or worse,” said García Ginerés resident María Bolaños on the neighborhood’s Facebook group. 

In June 2022, a three-day blackout in García Ginerés had several locals out in the streets flagging down CFE workers and blocking their vehicles while demanding that they address the issue. 

The lack of proper drainage systems in García Ginerés also makes the neighborhood particularly prone to flooding. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

One of the reasons that García Ginerés may be more prone to these types of prolonged blackouts is a faulty electrical substation incapable of delivering the required power.

This specific substation and its surrounding transformers have received maintenance on several occasions over the past few years. However, problems persist, suggesting that the entirety of the area’s infrastructure requires replacing — an expense the CFE is not eager to undertake. 

CFE workers are often seen in García Ginerés attempting to fix issues, but residents argue these are band-aid solutions. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Another commonly cited reason for the outages in the area is a failure of Mérida’s city government to adequately maintain the neighborhood’s lush vegetation, which during storms results in large amounts of “flying” debris. 

There is also the fact that Mérida’s growth over the past several years has simply surpassed the CFE’s power-generating capabilities. 

Earlier: Governor: The CFE must do more to avoid power outages

The CFE announced that it will invest billions of US dollars to build new power plants in Yucatán, with one being located in Mérida and the other in Valladolid.

“This is not just an inconvenience; we have children to feed and businesses to tend to. We simply can’t live like this anymore,” said long-time resident Victor Campo.

But there are concerns that these upgrades will be insufficient, especially considering the explosions of substations on the Muna-Peto highway in 2020 and Ticul in 2022, both of which were found to result from faulty and out-of-date systems. 

As a result of this most recent explosion, a 42-year-old CFE worker suffered serious injuries and left 1.3 million households without electricity across several states. 

The new power plants will apparently operate by burning both diesel and natural gas instead of opting for greener alternatives such as solar or wind power. 

Since assuming the office of president in 2018, López Obrador has been steadfast in his support of state-owned power companies, including the CFE and Pemex. This support has been controversial in part for these companies’ slow action to invest in more climate-friendly technologies

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