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Teachers occupy the Palo Blanco toll booths yesterday in Guerrero. Teachers occupy the Palo Blanco toll booths yesterday in Guerrero.

Dissident teachers protest in five states

Highways and shopping centers blocked, toll booths occupied

Teachers in five states went on strike yesterday and blocked shopping centers and highways and occupied toll booths in a renewal of their protest against education reform.

It was the second day of protests for teachers in Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacán and Sinaloa to demand the reopening of dialogue with the federal government and a response to a list of demands presented last year. In all states but Sinaloa the teachers belong to the radical CNTE union, a bitter foe of federal education reforms.

In Oaxaca, a group of men set up a barricade on a street in the capital’s Historic Centre and attempted to burn down a school’s wooden door. State authorities identified the men as members of the Los Pozoleros shock group, which has been linked to the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

The radical group’s intention, according to the state government, was to create panic among the city’s population and derail its negotiations with CNTE local Section 22.

Besides blocking highways Oaxaca teachers blocked the entrances to shopping centers and took over highway toll booths.

In Guerrero, teachers occupied two toll booths on the Autopista del Sol, the highway connecting Acapulco to Mexico City.

The teachers let motorists drive through toll-free and handed out information pamphlets on the reasons behind the strike. They also demanded the presentation — alive — of the 43 missing students from the Ayotzinapa teacher college.

Eight toll booths on the Michoacán highways Siglo 21 and Occidente were taken over by CNTE-affiliated teachers for close to five hours.

In Chiapas, the dissident teachers visited radio stations to explain the reasons behind the strike and protest, which included taking over the toll booths on the highways leading from the state capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, to the cities of San Cristóbal de las Casas and Ocozocoautla de Espinosa.

In the northern state of Sinaloa, teachers belonging to the officially recognized teachers’ union SNTE (National Union of Education Workers) took to the streets of the state capital, Culiacán, demanding the payment of unpaid wages and the re-hiring of staff who had been terminated.

In Oaxaca, the word from the state’s education authority, IEEPO, is that the vast majority of teachers have not joined the strike effort. The agency said there were classes in 93% of of the state’s 13,500 schools today, up from 87% yesterday.

In two schools, one in the capital and the other in the coast region, parents stopped teachers from entering their classrooms this morning and pressed them to decide whether they were going to teach or protest. Choose the second option, they were warned, and the parents would seek to have them replaced.

Source: El Universal (sp), Milenio (sp)

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