July 14, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Rebels bomb pipeline in Mexico

Leftist guerrillas in Mexico used bombs to blow up sections of a major gas pipeline in western Mexico three times over the past week, targeting multinational companies such as Honda, Kelloggs, Hershey, and Nissan. The lack of gas energy forced many industries to cease operations until repairs can be made. Well over 100,000 workers are presently idle, and the Mexican economy will no doubt suffer from the drop in output in the affected regions. The "People's Revolutionary Army," one of the offshoots of the Zapatista rebel movement of the 1990s, claimed responsibility, declaring the start of a "prolonged people's war." In response, the Mexican government pledged to upgrade its security measures, as President Calderon faces one of his most difficult challenges since taking office last December. See CNN.com.

Today, the Mexico City newspaper El Universal reported that PEMEX, the government oil and gas enterprise, had been warned of a pending attack in April, as vandals began to wreak small-scale havoc. Nothing was done about the threat, however, because other concerns were being prioritized. The lack of vigilance should come as no surprise, given that the bureaucrats who run PEMEX lack much incentive to exert effort to assure continued production or efficiency. But you can't say that in Mexico, where PEMEX is a "sacred cow" on par with Social Security in this country.

The big underlying question is whether the left-wing political movement that narrowly lost the presidential elections one year ago have any connection to the guerrilla movement. Supporters of defeated candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador made quite a few fiercely revolutionary statements during the closing months of 2006, even trying to thwart the inaugural ceremonies, and it would not surprise me if some of them have turned from childish spite to deadly subversion.