• Mérida's municipal palace goes dark, joining business owners in a protest over power rates. Photo: Ayuntamiento

Mérida, Yucatán — Candlelight replaced lightbulbs across the city in a protest against rising electric rates.

CFE has raised its commercial power rates as much as 300 percent, using a formula measuring supply, demand and access to electricity.

Joining an hour-long demonstration that started at 7 p.m., supermarkets and convenience stores turned off their electric signs, and some hotels and restaurants shut off lights and replaced them with candles. Some homeowners joined the protest in solidarity with the businesses.

Bistrola 77, Los Trompos, Cafeteria Pop, Burger King, Mercado 60, Mi Viejo Molino, El Cardenal Cantina, the ADO bus station and the Dante Cultural Center were among the establishments that participated in the symbolic blackout. The UADY campus also went dark, as did the Palacio de la Música and, to the north, the Siglo XXI convention center.

In a restaurant on Parque Hidalgo, the lights went out but televisions tuned in to a football match stayed on.

At Plaza Galerias mall, a planned Christmas lighting ceremony, “El encendido de la Navidad,” went on as planned.

At the Xmatkuil state fair, restaurants joined in while the rest of the activity proceeded as normal.

“Enjoying the one-hour blackout?” one expat posted on social media, captioning his photo of a gas station shrouded in black. “I’m sitting in a dark Carl’s Jr. looking out at a blackened Abimerhi Pemex.”

Mérida’s Municipal Palace and Yucatán’s state Government Palace was also dark for the duration. Local news media captured the moment their lights went out live on Facebook.

The adjacent Plaza Grande, however, remained lit, as did the Pasaje Revolución between the Cathedral and the Macay museum.

“Mérida and all of Yucatán deserve fair electricity rates, because the cost of this service directly impacts the economy of families and all sectors of the municipality and the state. That is why we join the symbolic blackout, temporarily shutting down the Municipal Palace,” the Ayuntamiento declared in a statement.

Business leader Juan Manuel Ponce Díaz, when announcing the blackout last week, said increasing power bills have had a negative impact on local firms’ finances and investment, killing more than 7,500 jobs throughout Yucatán.

On Tuesday evening, Ponce Díaz told reporters that the blackout was successful in delivering its message of discontent to the CFE. The CFE has not publicly responded to the protest.

Sources: Diario de Yucatán, Punto Medio

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