At least 700 Federal Police officers were flown into Oaxaca city yesterday in response to blockades by protesting teachers, but many highways remain closed today, creating shortages of fuel and even cash in some areas.
At the Pemex refinery in Salina Cruz the situation was becoming critical because tanker trucks have been unable to take delivery of propylene gas.
Oaxaca Public Security Secretary Jorge Ruiz said it was critical to remove the gas so it doesn’t leak and create an environmental emergency.
But 50 tanker trucks have been detained by teachers on the Tehuantepec-Salina Cruz highway. Ruiz admitted today that an attempt to reach an accord with the protesters had met with a hostile response, leaving no other option but to free the trucks with the use of force.
He said Governor Gabino Cué had instructed that dialogue be attempted with the teachers in order to explain the urgency of the situation but, Ruiz said, they refused to listen to the government’s proposal.
It’s not just trucks that are being affected. The ADO bus company, which operates five lines, has suspended service in the city of Oaxaca, Juchitán and Huatulco. Photos appeared on social networks yesterday showing one of the company’s buses driving across a riverbed to avoid a blockade.
An employee told Reforma that the state is “completely paralyzed” by the closure of the highways, some of which have been behind blockades for five days.
Passengers traveling from Mexico City to Oaxaca on Monday and Tuesday were stranded for more than 24 hours in Nochixtlán due to a blockade.
In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec alone there were nine blockades this morning, affecting traffic in Juchitán, Tehuantepec, El Morro Mazatán, Santa María Huamelula, Salina Cruz and Matías Romero.
Several gas stations have been reported closed in both Juchitán and Huatulco.
In Juchitán, banks have begun warning customers that they are running out of cash because shipments have been halted for fear of the trucks being detained by blockades or attacked by thieves.
Four beer and soft drink delivery trucks have been reported targeted by thieves who looted the cargo before setting the vehicles on fire.
A Soriana store in Juchitán was hit early this morning by a group of masked individuals who broke in and began looting the premises, an incident for which the CNTE teachers’ union claimed it was not responsible.
Protests and blockaders continue as well in the Central Valleys.
Outside the city of Oaxaca, teachers’ union members reinstalled a blockade at Hacienda Blanca on federal highway No. 190, where only the vehicles of private citizens were being allowed to pass. Transport trucks were being detained.
Businesses in the city report that tourism is feeling the effects of the protests: visitors are canceling hotel reservations and going elsewhere, while as many as 30 businesses have closed, some permanently, in the city’s historic center.
Fabiola Calvo, president of the Historic Center Council, lamented that neither federal nor state authorities have intervened to allow businesses to operate in streets that have been occupied by the teachers’ union.
Calvo said authorities are afraid to confront Section 22, the Oaxaca local of the CNTE union.
The situation worsened today in the city as the union erected barricades in the city center to deter authorities from removing the protesters.
Teacher protests against education reform have been ongoing for some time, but intensified following the arrest last weekend of two Oaxaca union leaders.