Mexico: Chiapas blockade supports teachers, gov't negotiates without key union

July 17, 2016

A highway blockade in support of Mexico's striking teachers was increasingly gaining popular support in the capital of the southern state of Chiapas, La Jornada reported on July 13.

The protest in the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez was organised as a popular assembly. As of July 12, it had been active for 15 days, involving 3500 demonstrators in support of the radical CNTE teachers union.

Teachers and parents from impoverished neighbourhoods, medical students, indigenous associations and grassroots movements have joined the blockade as part of nationwide protests against President Enrique Pena Nieto's neoliberal education reform.

Popular support for the teachers cause in Mexico has been concentrated in the southern states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Tabasco and Chiapas, a region historically subject to violence and poverty but also rich in social struggle.

Meanwhile CNTE leaders were holding talks over the reform with the government at the Interior Ministry headquarters in Mexico City on the same day.

Government officials have so far shown no willingness to negotiate on any point of the education reform, which have spearheaded 11 neoliberal structural reforms implemented by Pena Nieto during the first 20 months of his administration.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong is expected to demand that CNTE leaders end the highway blockades across the country, which are likely to impact tourism as the summer approaches. However, the striking teachers said they will not do so unless the reform is repealed.

Protests and strikes began in May after the government refused to negotiate with teachers, who have rejected the reforms that so far have led to the dismissal of nearly 10,000 people.
The controversial law imposed teacher evaluation tests prescribed by international organisations such as the World Bank and the OECD. Striking teachers say the tests do not effectively measure teaching skills especially those that meet needs in rural areas and Indigenous communities.

In Oaxaca, the government responded to demonstrations with police repression, resulting in the deaths of 12 people, with dozens injured and many others arrested.

[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]

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