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Teachers protest in state of Oaxaca

Gas stations, a refinery and new parking meters in Tuxtepec are among targets

Seven Pemex stations, two toll booths and the Salina Cruz refinery were among the blockade targets of Oaxaca’s radical teachers’ union yesterday, along with 266 parking meters.

Protesting education reform, the disappearance of the Ayotzinapa students last September and the failure by the state government to approve the union’s own education plan, teachers belonging to Section 22 of the SNTE union engaged in protests and shutdowns for about eight hours in different regions of Oaxaca.

In Tuxtepec, union activists, having decided that parking meters are bad for the local economy, took sledge hammers and other tools to 266 meter bases recently installed by the municipal government. They had hoped to destroy the meters themselves, but they were removed the night before by authorities and the firm designated to operate them.

The protesters uprooted the meter bases and dumped them in the entrance to the municipal palace, where they also staged a political meeting at which the mayor was warned the meters would be removed again should they be reinstalled.

Parking meters have been a thorny and divisive issue in Tuxtepec for some time. Section 22 members claim they hurt family businesses and represent a form of privatizing the streets.

But in the city of Oaxaca, merchants in the public markets, many of which are family-owned and operated, are complaining about poor sales so far this month, and they lay much of the blame on the teachers’ union.

Instead of the usual increased in sales in January, they have gone the other way, said one vendor, who blamed ongoing blockades and protests by teachers, as well as itinerant street vendors.

One planned activity that did not materialize yesterday was a blockade of the Oaxaca airport.

The day’s protests resulted in the closure of more than 14,000 schools and affected upwards of 1.3 million students in the state’s eight regions, but drew less participation than other previous demonstrations, according to one report.

Sources: El Universal (sp), El Imparcial (sp), Milenio (sp)

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