MEXICO CITY, April 27 (Reuters) - Thousands of people, some dressed in oil worker jumpsuits, protested a Mexican energy reform proposal on Sunday that leftists say is a veiled attempt to privatize the cherished state industry.
Decrying government plans to allow more private investment in state-run oil monopoly Pemex [PEMX.UL], protesters carried signs saying “This is a holdup” and showed pictures of President Felipe Calderon holding a gas pump like a gun.
Mexico is the world’s sixth-largest producer of crude oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the No. 3 supplier of oil to the United States.
Police said some 15,000 people marched through central Mexico City to the massive Zocalo square, led by leftist firebrand Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who narrowly lost the presidency to Calderon in 2006.
“Calderon’s proposal is a privatizing reform that is going to damage the most valuable resource that we Mexicans have,” said Luis Reyes, a former engineer at Mexico’s National Petroleum Institute.
The leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution and some smaller allies disrupted the upper and lower houses with round-the-clock protests this month to block Calderon’s plan. They lifted the protest last week after the ruling National Action Party agreed to a broad debate on the issue.
Calderon wants to sweeten oil field service contracts with bonus fees to attract experienced foreign partners that could help Pemex uncover new deepwater oil deposits and lift declining output and reserves. (Reporting by Michael O‘Boyle; Editing by John O‘Callaghan)