Police on the tracks in Uruapan, Michoacán. Police on the tracks in Uruapan, Michoacán.

Police clash with teachers in efforts to clear rail blockades

14 officers injured, seven protesters arrested

Law enforcement and protesters in Uruapan and Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, clashed Wednesday over control of the railway tracks, leaving 14 police officers injured and seven protesters arrested as authorities removed rail blockades.

The protesters are teachers and teaching students, known as normalistas, who have blocked the railway on and off for the past three weeks, demanding the payment of bonuses and scholarships and the automatic allocation of jobs to more than 2,000 recent graduates.

The teachers, who are affiliated with the CNTE teachers’ union, were briefly removed last week under pressure from state police, but by Friday blockades were back in at least seven municipalities.

In yesterday’s clashes, state police and the National Guard moved in on teachers in Caltzontzin and Pátzcuaro after negotiations broke down.

Footage of the confrontation appears to show authorities launching flash bangs and tear gas at protesters.

The normalistas responded by throwing Molotov cocktails, fireworks and rocks at authorities who forcibly removed them from the tracks.

Ten state police officers and four members of the National Guard were injured in Caltzontzin, and seven protesters were arrested in Pátzcuaro.

Blockades on the tracks have interrupted the transport of goods to and from the center of the country, which is causing economic losses estimated at 50 million pesos (US $2.27 million) per day.

Michoacán Industry Association president Carlos Alberto Enríquez Barajas says that regardless of whether the teachers’ demands are legitimate, “this can no longer be the way to function in Michoacán.”

The blockades also scare off investors and drive up logistical costs that reduce Michoacán’s competitiveness, Enríquez said.

Currently, 12 trains are reported stranded in different parts of the state and the country, unable to reach their destinations due to the blockades.

In 2019 normalistas blocked the railway tracks in Michoacán for a total of 62 days.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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