A police vehicle blocks the tracks in Uruapan. A police vehicle blocks the tracks in Uruapan.

Teachers commandeer police vehicle, trucks to block railway tracks

Rail blockades continue in Michoacán

Protesters once again took control of the railway in Uruapan, Michoacán, this time by commandeering a police patrol vehicle, a Corona beer truck and a tractor-trailer loaded with groceries to block the tracks.

The move came after state police and the National Guard forcibly removed protesters from the tracks Wednesday in a clash that saw 14 police officers injured and seven protesters arrested.

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.

In Wednesday’s skirmish, normalistas lobbed Molotov cocktails, fireworks and rocks at authorities who fired back with flashbangs and tear gas, successfully removing the protesters and their blockades in Pátzcuaro and Caltzontzin.

Their victory was short-lived. Around 2 p.m. on Thursday, a large crowd of protesters marched back to the tracks in Caltzontzin, blocking them once again. Protesters were also present in Maravatío, Lázaro Cárdenas, Morelia and Múgica although they had not established a blockade in those locations. 

In Caltzontzin, members of the indigenous Arantepacua community marched with the teachers yesterday and threatened that if the state uses force to remove the blockade, indigenous communities will mobilize in support of the normalistas and radicalize their protest actions.

The protesters, many affiliated with the CNTE teachers’ union, have interrupted the transportation of goods to and from the center of the country, causing economic losses estimated at 50 million pesos (US $2.27 million) per day.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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