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A railway blockade in Michoacán. Protesters block the tracks in Michoacán.

Michoacán railway blockade now in its 24th day

Kansas City Southern says there have been a record 95 days of rail blockades this year

More than 70 teachers and teachers in training continue to blockade railway tracks in Michoacán, halting the movement of freight to and from the port of Lázaro Cárdenas.

The tracks between Caltzontzin and La Vinata have been obstructed for 24 days, affecting the Kansas City Southern de México (KCSM) rail traffic which mainly consists of steel, petroleum and automotive products. 

The teaching students are demanding the release of those they consider political prisoners, job stability, the payment of scholarships the government allegedly owes them and teaching positions for more than 2,000 recent graduates, among others.

“We understand what they are asking for, but it is an issue outside the railroad. There may be reasons to protest, some are valid, but in the strict sense, there should be no impact on third parties,” said Óscar del Cueto, president of KCSM de México and the Mexican Association of Railways.

So far in 2020, Del Cueto said, there have been 95 days of blockades on tracks used by KCSM, the highest number ever.

“We had one in Sonora, we have one in Chihuahua and this one in Michoacán. There are already 92% more cases than in 2019, there are demonstrations that have nothing to do with the railroad, but they use the blockade of federal communication channels to seek to address other problems,” Del Cueto explained.

In Meoqui, Chihuahua, residents are protesting a 1944 water treaty with the United States whose terms call for sending water to the U.S.

That blockade began on August 26 when residents placed mounds of dirt on the tracks between the United States and Mexico. That blockade has already cost Mexican industry more than US $10 billion.

Michoacán’s industrialists estimate that for each day the tracks are blocked in that state, losses are in the neighborhood of 50 million pesos (US $2.39 million).

Teaching students also blocked the tracks in Michoacán and Puebla in March of this year, as well as in October 2019.

The protesters say their activities will intensify until the federal and local governments meet their demands.

Source: Reforma (sp), T21 (sp)

CORRECTION: The earlier version of this story gave an incorrect US dollar value for the estimated daily losses caused by blockades in Michoacán.

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