Most of the Oaxaca teachers who had been on strike since last May have returned to work, according to federal education authorities, but that hasn’t stopped the protests: students aspiring to be teachers are filling the gap.
Students from the state’s teacher colleges blockaded a Pemex distribution terminal today in Santa María del Tule, just outside Oaxaca city. The youngsters, wearing masks, arrived aboard three transit buses they had hijacked by force in the state capital, shut down access to the terminal and began helping themselves to free gas.
The students are demanding automatic job placement for 180 of their number without being required to undergo evaluation.
They began taking on protest duties on Tuesday, when the teachers, members of the CNTE union, began returning to work. The students erected blockades at the Plaza del Valle shopping center for six hours. Yesterday, they blockaded the first-class bus terminal in Oaxaca city.
In both cases they hijacked privately-owned vehicles.
Today’s blockade could affect fuel supplies in more than 20 municipalities in the state’s Central Valleys.
Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño said this morning that there were classes yesterday in 98% of Oaxaca’s schools. But he warned that the dialogue between federal authorities and the union, which was broken off when the teachers refused to go back to work on the first day of school two weeks ago, would not resume until 100% of Oaxaca’s schools were operating.
He also warned that abolishing education reform, a key demand of teachers, will not be on the agenda. The Education Secretariat announced last week that just over 2,000 Oaxaca teachers face layoffs for failing to show up for evaluations or to teach classes.
Gov. Gabino Cue, who had appeared helpless against teachers and their sometimes violent protests until the federal government stepped in last year, took a firm stand today. He declared there would be no dialogue with the union until its camp in Oaxaca city’s zócalo was completely dismantled.
“Further irresponsibility will not be tolerated,” he said.
Teachers have maintained a protest camp in the historic center for 115 days. The size of the camp was reduced last week but some tents still remain.
In Chiapas, the CNTE union remains firm in its resolve to continue its work stoppage, now in its 117th day, although a consultation is under way with teachers in 800 locations in 24 regions of the state. It will be a slow process, said a union spokesman.