A Kansas City Southern train in Michoacán. A Kansas City Southern train in Michoacán.

After 91 days, security forces clear teachers’ rail blockades in Michoacán

The move came after the government forked out 1.5 billion pesos to settle unpaid wages

Teachers who blockaded train tracks in Michoacán for the last 91 days were removed by security forces on Sunday. 

Members of the CNTE teachers union installed blockades on the tracks on July 31 in Caltzontzin, on the outskirts of Uruapan, claiming the state government had failed to pay wages owed to some 28,000 teachers. Five weeks ago, they expanded the blockade to the railway to Pátzcuaro, 54 kilometers from the state capital Morelia. 

The teachers said there were no confrontations or violence during the evictions, the newspaper Reforma reported. National Guard troops and state police cleared the tracks at about 3:30 p.m., and the Michoacán industry association AIEMAC said on Sunday it expected railroad Kansas City Southern de México (KCSM) to start running trains the same day. 

State Governor Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla said 1.5 billion pesos (about US $71 million) was paid to teachers to settle four fortnightly payments, and unpaid bonuses. The disagreement predates Ramírez’s time in office, going back to his predecessor’s administration; the Democratic Revolutionary Party’s Silvano Aureoles. 

The leader of the CNTE’s so-called “power base” group, Benjamín Hernández, confirmed that he received a warning about the operation after the state government settled payments.

“The pressure was very strong … finally today the governor told me that he could not stop the eviction … I asked them [the teachers] to withdraw and not come to confrontation. In Caltzontzin, the Michoacán police and the National Guard arrived. They began to remove everything. In Pátzcuaro, they also arrived and asked [the teachers] to retreat, and if not, they said they would act,” he said.

However, the battle might not be over quite yet. Hernández said that union members would meet on Wednesday to discuss further strike action. They say they are owed a salary increase and their bonuses for 2020, and that they want to secure jobs for trainee teachers that graduated in 2019, 2020 and this year.  

The industry association AIEMAC said companies were losing a combined total of approximately 50 million pesos ($2.4 million) each day due to the obstruction of access to the port of Lázaro Cárdenas, Reforma reported on September 2. 

With reports from Reforma

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