The lower house of Congress remained closed for the second day in a row due to a protest by the dissident CNTE teachers’ union outside the legislative palace in Mexico City.
The teachers continue to protest against the previous federal government’s educational reforms, which President López Obrador has promised will be repealed.
The teachers are opposed in particular to the yearly performance evaluations — on which their employment status depends — and demand that graduates from teacher training colleges be hired immediately without evaluation. The union also wants to be the sole judge of teacher promotions.
In response to the protest, Congress president Porfirio Muñoz Ledo cancelled yesterday’s and today’s legislative sessions.
This morning, the president asked the CNTE to be open to debate in order for both parties to reach a deal.
“I want to tell those protesting . . . that we’re open to negotiation,” he said, explaining that Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero and Public Education Secretary Esteban Moctezuma Barragán “have been instructed to lead the negotiations.”
“Teachers should now form their own commissions and start negotiating,” said López Obrador.
Both cabinet members were ready to sit down with CNTE representatives at 10:00am, but the meeting didn’t begin until a couple of hours later.
Negotiations were continuing this afternoon and while a deal is far from done, at least one group of teachers is preparing to leave the protest and return home.
Mao Alonso López, spokesman for the union’s Oaxaca local, Section 22, told reporters that the original plan was to protest for 48 hours outside the lower house of Congress.
The protest camp will be lifted today, he said, regardless of the results of the negotiations, although any future protests in the country’s capital will depend in the outcome, he warned.
López Obrardor said earlier that “it should be made clear that we’ve always fulfilled and will continue to fulfill our commitments.”
“I always said that I disagreed with the so-called educational reform and defended the teachers when [the past administration] wanted to defend the reform,” he said.