Teachers and teachers in training protesting in Michoacán lifted their rail blockades on Tuesday after state police allegedly threatened to remove them using force.
Benjamín Hernández Gutiérrez, secretary general of Section 18 of the dissident CNTE teachers union, said that protesters in Maravatío, Pátzcuaro, Múgica and Uruapan freed the tracks they were blocking when confronted by police.
Teachers and teaching students known as normalistas have blocked railroads in Michoacán in recent weeks to demand the payment of bonuses and scholarships and the automatic allocation of jobs to graduates.
Hernández told the newspaper Reforma that he and other CNTE members were told at a meeting with officials of all three levels of government that the Michoacán state police operation to free the tracks was ordered by the federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR)
The Michoacán Security Ministry also said on Twitter that police had acted on the orders of the FGR.
Hernández claimed that police who confronted protesters in Maravatío, a municipality northeast of the state capital Morelia, were prepared to use violence to remove them from the train tracks they were blocking.
“Colleagues in Maravatío told us that police arrived not with an attitude of peace but with … batons in their hands, … aggression was imminent,” he said.
The union leader said that the actions of the police contradicted the declarations of President López Obrador, who said there would be no aggression toward teachers and that a solution to their demands would be sought via dialogue.
“One thing is what is said … but another is what they [the government] are doing. In the media, they say that there is dialogue but in the [government] actions there is repression,” Hernández said.
He added that the CNTE in Michoacán will continue to pressure authorities to meet their demands but indicated that they would do so through dialogue, not violence.
Teachers tried again Wednesday morning to erect a blockade at the tracks in Múgica but withdrew after state police and National Guardsmen appeared almost as soon as the protesters arrived.
The state police operation to remove the teachers from train tracks came after the National Guard attended all four blockades on Monday but took no action against the protesters.
It also came after the president of the Michoacán Industry Association (AIEMAC) urged the federal government to intervene to end the rail blockades. Carlos Alberto Enríquez Barajas said the rail blockades scare off investors and drive up logistical costs that reduce Michoacán’s competitiveness.
According to AIEMAC, each day of blockades costs industry up to 50 million pesos (US $2.3 million).
Source: Reforma (sp)