Thousands of Mexican teachers protest in 4 states

Thousands of Mexican teachers went on strike on Monday in the southern states of Michoacan, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas, staging marches, road blockades and taking over businesses and offices to demand that the government resume a dialogue with them concerning their demands.

The “active work stoppage” lasting 24 hours was called by the militant CNTE union.

The CNTE for more than two years has been staging mobilizations against the educational reform promulgated by President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2013.

In particular, the union rejects the obligatory evaluation of teachers without taking into account the particular characteristics of the country’s regions.

In Guerrero, besides suspending classes in practically all primary schools, the teachers blocked the highway connecting the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco with the Mexican capital for more than two hours.

In Chilpancingo, the state capital, another group of educators took over several bank branches and businesses as a means of exerting pressure on the federal government to resume the dialogue with the teachers, which was suspended in June.

Mobilizations also occurred in Acapulco.

In Oaxaca, where authorities said the work stoppage affected 65 percent of the schools, the teachers also blocked roads, including the access routes to the Oaxaca city airport and several stores belonging to transnational companies.

“In the face of the federal government’s dimwittedness, with the lack of political will, what we have to do is, via mobilization,” demand a public discussion about the problems in the sector, the CNTE leader in Oaxaca, Ruben Nuñez, said.

“We will be taking over the northern and southern borders, the highways, the transnational firms” to pressure the government with an eye toward getting authorities to sit back down and negotiate, Nuñez said, emphasizing however the importance of not causing violent provocations.

The federal government has said that it will not back down from the educational reform.

In Michoacan, 80 percent of the elementary schools remained closed on Monday, a situation that affected up to 1 million students.

The teachers took over several highway tollbooths, as well as the central offices of the Education Secretariat in the state, and they threatened to halt activities at the port of Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico’s main port on the Pacific.

In Chiapas, thousands of teachers paralyzed several border crossing points with Guatemala to demand “the overturning of the educational reform.”

For Monday afternoon, the CNTE had scheduled a march in the Mexican capital.