Six Dead After Teacher Protests In Oaxaca, Mexico

By Rodrigo Cervantes
Published: Monday, June 20, 2016 - 5:43pm
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In the State of Oaxaca, Southern Mexico, six people are reported dead and at least 53 injured after the local police clashed last Sunday with protesters from a teachers union.

The tragedy is part of a three-year story of confrontations between teacher organizations and the Mexican Government.

Police tried to dislodge protesters blocking a highway in Nochixtlán, at the southern state of Oaxaca. The blockade, as others in the past, attempted to affect traffic, as well as the transportation of fuel from refineries and gas stations.

Violence erupted in the middle of confusion, gunshots and explosion — probably from Molotov cocktails — were heard, according to witnesses and reports from local media.

According to the Government of Oaxaca, none of the six deceased are members of the teachers union and attributes the violence to infiltrated masked gunmen. The deaths and the gunshots are still part of an ongoing investigation.

Most of the protesters were part of the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación or CNTE, one of the two main teacher unions. The CNTE used to be a very powerful union since it had strong links to the Government while led by Elba Esther Gordillo for more more than 20 years. This changed after Gordillo was arrested in 2013 accused of corruption, money laundering and organized crime.

Since 2013, several unions and teacher organizations from public schools have protested against the Education Reform brought by President Enrique Peña Nieto, but also against the recent detention of some of its leaders for alleged corruption and violence.

The CNTE opposes to key components of the Education Reform, particularly to the new requirement where teachers need to be monitored and evaluated by the State.

Mexico is a country with a long history of protests of this kind. To rally is a constitutional right, but sometimes they may turn violent or controversial, like last Sunday in Oaxaca. Some protests affect in the short term the operations of businesses, factories and highways, as well as traffic.

So far, in this particular case, there has been no direct effect registered on the US or the bilateral relations between both countries.

Oaxaca has been a key state for the mobilizations, but other states have also witnessed rallies led by teacher unions. Last week, in Mexico City, the CNTE protested in front of TV stations, corporations, government offices and even attempted to block some of the main highways that connect the city with other states.

This Monday, leaders of the CNTE teacher trade union also demanded the resignation of Mexico’s Secretary of Education, Aurelio Nuño, and the Governor of Oaxaca, Gabino Cué.

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