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Faceoff in Chiapas this morning. Faceoff in Chiapas this morning.

Teachers renew their protests over reforms

Strikes, blockades today in Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero and Michoacán

Teachers opposed to the education reforms introduced by the current federal administration renewed their protests by going on strike in four states today.

It was like old times in Oaxaca this morning when members of the Section 22 local of the CNTE teachers’ union hijacked public transit buses, privately owned delivery trucks and even an excavator to erect barricades at various locations in the capital city and snarl traffic.

State officials reported that blockades had also been erected on at least three major highways: the Pinotepa-Acapulco section of the coastal highway, one in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and a third on the Oaxaca-Mexico City highway.

The Oaxaca teachers have been quiet for several months, largely because the union lost much of its power when the state’s education institute was reorganized last summer and union officials were removed from key positions.

The change has been significant in a state where teachers’ protest marches, often resulting in violence, were common for many years.

But at least two recent events have triggered the union’s ire, the first being the state legislature’s approval of education legislation that brings Oaxaca in line with the education reforms. The second was the arrest yesterday of the union’s finance chief, Aciel Sibaja Mendoza, on charges of attempted murder, theft and damage to public property.

In Chiapas, authorities decided to be prepared for the announced protests by CNTE teachers: at least 5,000 Federal Police officers arrived by air and by land in preparation for today’s strike action. As of 2:00pm, a police vehicle, another belonging to a reporter and a commercial truck had been set set on fire by protesters at various blockades.

In Guerrero, dissident teachers belonging to CETEG, the State Coordinator of Education Workers of Guerrero, mounted a blockade on the Autopista del Sol, which connects Mexico City and Acapulco.

They set up their protest on the south side of the capital city of Chilpancingo, blocking all four lanes.

Guerrero’s teachers are particularly irked by the federal Education Secretariat’s warning that nearly 1,300 of their number would be dismissed for not attending evaluation sessions April 8 and 9.

A CETEG spokesman predicted the dismissals could result in social conflict.

Protestesters in Michoacán mounted a blockade on the Siglo 21 freeway, which links the port of Lázaro Cárdenas with the central region of Mexico, and shut down access routes into the port itself, paralyzing the movement of shipping containers.

The teachers have announced further strikes, for May 1 and 15, to press further their demand for repeal of the education reform package.

Source: Milenio (sp), El Sol de México (sp)

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