Dissident teachers in Oaxaca held 30 people against their will for 24 hours Monday in an effort to wrest control over the administration of at least 3 billions pesos (US $157 million) in school rebuilding funds.
More than 2,000 schools sustained damages during the earthquakes in September and the CNTE teachers’ union wants to be the sole entity in charge of administering the money allocated for repairs.
Members of union local Section 22 occupied the State Institute for Public Education of Oaxaca (IEEPO) headquarters in Oaxaca city for over 24 hours, effectively kidnapping 30 mostly female clerks who were trapped inside, and vandalized that and other facilities.
IEEPO spokesman Jorge Armando Oropeza Pérez said there was vandalism in eight different IEEPO locations and claimed that teachers attacked security staff, removed important documents and computer equipment and trashed the offices.
Oropeza said legal complaints have been filed before the Oaxaca Attorney General for unlawful detention of institute staff and the looting of its premises.
He said the teachers’ actions will delay the process of allocating school reconstruction funds.
The union also mounted roadblocks and occupied Oaxaca’s central square this week to apply further pressure.
There were reports this morning that Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat might have extended an olive branch to the teachers yesterday by offering them a bilateral relationship with the education institute. For many years the union local had effectively controlled the agency, which administers education in the state, until a major shakeup in July 2015 by the previous state government.
The president of the state council for citizens’ participation in education criticized CNTE-affiliated teachers, claiming that since their ongoing protests are unjustified they are now attempting to blackmail the government for the earthquake reconstruction funds.
Luisa García Cruz added that the state parents’ association, an organization over which she also presides, will attempt to meet with Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño and President Enrique Peña Nieto to ask that the CNTE not be allowed to affect or hinder the school reconstruction efforts.