Striking teachers blockade Chiapas airport
TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, Chiapas – Hundreds of striking teachers, joined by students and parents, blocked access to the main international airport in the southern state of Chiapas for 10 hours on Monday July 25, Mexican authorities told EFE.
With state and federal police deployed at Angel Albino Corzo International Airport, protesters led by the Chiapas branch of the militant CNTE teachers union set up blockades about a kilometer (0.6 miles) away from the terminal.
Starting at dawn, the protesters commandeered buses and used them to block all road access to the airport, forcing the cancelation of departing flights.
The airport is located in central Chiapas, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the state capital, Tuxtla Gutierrez.
“On completing 71 days of CNTE demonstrations in Chiapas, the actions will be more intense and resounding,” union spokesman Jose Luis Escobar told EFE.
The CNTE demands the repeal of a 2013 education overhaul that includes regular evaluations of teachers and ends longstanding union privileges.
The union, which is strongest in Oaxaca, Michoacan, Chiapas and Guerrero, Mexico’s poorest states, says the evaluations are punitive because they fail to take into account that schools in rural areas often lack electricity and even textbooks.
Teachers and their supporters in those four states have been mobilized since May, blocking roads and occupying public buildings.
Starting Tuesday, the CNTE vows to institute a “permanent blockade” of Tuxtla Gutierrez.
After months of ignoring the CNTE’s demands for dialogue, the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto agreed to talks after eight people were killed on June 19 when federal police opened fire on protesting teachers in Nochixtlan, Oaxaca.
Those discussions, however, have yet to produce any progress.