Striking teachers mobilize in Mexico City, accusing government of trying to “outlast” them
MEXICO CITY – Striking teachers opposed to a controversial overhaul of Mexico’s education system said Wednesday July 6 that the government is trying to “manage” the conflict in the hope of outlasting the dissidents, EFE news agency reported.
Members and supporters of the militant CNTE union marched from four separate points of the capital to the Benito Juarez monument, where union official Francisco Bravo said that despite agreeing to talks with teachers, the government has not budged from its position of refusing to consider scrapping the educational reform.
He added, however, that the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto would be wrong to think it “will defeat the teachers through exhaustion.”
In the dialogue between the government and the CNTE, authorities have offered nothing beyond what was already proposed by Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño, Bravo said.
Mexico’s No. 2 official, Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, presented to the CNTE on Tuesday a formal initiative for negotiations on the country’s education model.
The CNTE representatives told Osorio Chang they would need to consult with the rank-and-file before responding and the two sides agreed to meet again next Monday.
At the same time, the teachers once again demanded the repeal of the education overhaul, which 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.
The CNTE also called for the release of two jailed union leaders and a pledge from the government not to retaliate against educators who have attended demonstrations instead of teaching their classes.
Wednesday’s mobilization in Mexico City ended a 72-hour “national round of struggle” against the educational reform and in solidarity with the families of the eight people killed on June 19 when federal police opened fire on protesting teachers in Nochixtlan, Oaxaca.
The violence, which came amid CNTE road blockades that caused shortages of fuel and other necessities in Oaxaca and Chiapas, forced the government to enter talks with the teachers.