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In Michoacán, the freight train blues continue. In Michoacán, the freight train blues continue.

Government goes to human rights commission over teachers’ rail blockades

It has also asked what it can do to to end the protest, estimated to have cost 30 billion pesos

The federal government has filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) against those responsible for the teachers’ rail blockades in Michoacán.

President López Obrador told reporters at his press conference this morning that the government also sought the opinion of the CNDH with regard to what to do to end the blockades in the context of its determination not to use force against the teachers.

“. . . Two days ago, we decided to file a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission. I instructed legal adviser to present the complaint for violation of human rights so that the commission says what has to be done,” he said.

The CNTE teachers’ union agreed last week to lift seven rail blockades in Michoacán but radical teachers belonging to the National Front of Struggle for Socialism (FNLS) and the National Democratic Executive Committee (CEND) have maintained those located in the municipalities of Uruapan and Pátzcuaro.

The Mexican Railway Association (AMF) said today that teachers are once again blocking tracks in the port city of Lázaro Cárdenas as well.

The AMF also said that there are now 3.3 million tonnes of stranded freight, while the cost of the blockades to the economy is likely to be in the range of 30 billion pesos (US $1.6 billion). Teachers protesting against unpaid salaries and benefits first erected the blockades on January 14.

López Obrador this morning called on CNTE leaders to clarify whether the radical teachers who are continuing to block tracks also belong to the union.

“I wouldn’t say [they’re from] the CNTE because they [the union] had a meeting and they took the decision [to lift the blockades]. That’s the information I have, that they were going to lift the blockade because their demands were attended to,” he said.

“I’d like the CNTE in Michoacán to clarify this issue, [are the blockades] of the organization or not . . . what relationship do they have [to the protesting teachers]? We’ve been available for dialogue, we’ve done everything to satisfy their requests . . .” López Obrador added.

The president was to attend an event today in Huetamo, a Michoacán municipality around 200 kilometers south of the state capital, Morelia.

This morning, teachers affiliated with the CNTE union tried to enter the fairgrounds where the event will be held but were stopped by state police.

According to the newspaper El Sol de México, teachers subsequently attacked police with sticks and stones and some were arrested.

The newspaper Reforma said that a committee of Section 18 CNTE members hope to meet López Obrador in private today in Huetamo to demand that new talks be held between the union and state and federal authorities.

However, while rail blockades remain in place, it appears unlikely that further discussions will go ahead.

Union leaders said in a statement that the CNTE was not associated with any groups who choose to defy the directive to lift the rail blockades, while union sources told Reforma that at a meeting yesterday, representatives from Uruapan were booed when they advocated maintaining them.

Meanwhile, most students in Michoacán have not attended school for almost a month and disgruntled teachers continue to barricade shopping centers and government offices.

Source: Milenio (sp), Reforma (sp), La Jornada, El Sol de México (sp) 

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