Mexican teachers launch indefinite strike, new death in Oaxaca

Issue 


Protesters march against the education reform in Mexico City.

Public school teachers in Mexico City launched an indefinite strike on July 5, called by leaders of the dissident National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) teachers union to protest the education reforms imposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Striking teachers from the Section 9 of the SNTE — who support the CNTE — also took part in the mega-march held in central Mexico City that day, where they joined some parents and colleagues from the southern states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero.

That day, another teacher in the southern state of Oaxaca died from injuries sustained last month after he was hit in the head when police attacked protesters in Nochixtlan. The town has been the scene of road blockades and barricades by protesting teachers. The police evicted the teachers that were striking outside the Public Education Institute of when Jose Caballero, who taught indigenous education, was hospitalised.

The CNTE are still coordinating a series of roadblocks across Oaxaca as part of protests against the attacks on education. The government plans to lay off tens of thousands more teachers and has also threatened those who are attending the massive protests.

The CNTE union has about 200,000 members and numerous local unions and groups have joined the general strike in Tabasco, Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca.

In an official statement, the assembly of the Section 9 called on teachers in Mexico City to also join the blockades that protesters have been maintaining over the past months to demand the government discuss the reforms.

However, the government of Pena Nieto has shown little openness to dialogue and instead, teachers have been repressed by security forces. The government violence escalated to fatal levels in Oaxaca, where federal and local police repression has claimed the lives of at least eight people and has left dozens injured, with many arrested during the ongoing protests.

A Mexican government delegation was met by dozens of residents in Nochixtlan on July 7 with empty bullet cartridges and tear gas canisters used by riot police during the massacre of striking teachers and their supporters on June 19.

The delegation, led by Deputy Interior Minister Roberto Campa, came to hold talk with villagers and striking teachers from the CNTE dissident union in order to negotiate reparations for the victims and their families.

The meeting, held at an elementary school, was also attended by officials from the Ministry of Social Development and the attorney general's office, who were both forced out of the meeting by CNTE representatives due to allegations of involvement in the violent crackdown.

The CNTE has demanded that a special prosecutor and international authorities investigate the violence to identify both the “intellectual and material authors” behind the “extrajudicial killings". They have also vowed to continue protests and road blockades until the government answers their demands.

Protests began in 2013 when Peña Nieto introduced a total of 11 neoliberal structural reforms during his first 20 months in government, with education being the first. But the protests and the general strike resumed last May after the government refused to negotiate with teachers.

[Compiled from TeleSUR English.]
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