The Mexican government has begun airlifting food to the southern state of Oaxaca, which is largely cut off to commercial traffic by protesting teachers.
Social Development Secretary Jose Antonio Meade said Thursday June 30 that there would be two flights per day Thursday through Saturday to deliver more than 100 tons of food to the Pacific coast of Oaxaca.
Meade says food is also being trucked in from the neighboring states of Guerrero and Veracruz. The food will be distributed through state-run stores.
A radical teachers union and supporting groups have been blocking major highways in the state. Private vehicles are usually allowed to pass, but commercial trucks are blocked.
The teachers oppose education reforms that the government has said are the law and cannot be withdrawn. Representatives of the teachers union, known as CNTE, are meeting sporadically with top federal government officials in Mexico City, but so far no progress has been achieved to resolve the continuing stalemate.
With teachers promising to expand their protests throughout Mexico over the next 72 hours and the Interior Secretary saying the government has reached the limit, the use of force to free up the principal highways of Oaxaca and neighboring Chiapas appears likely to come soon.
Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said Thursday that talks with the CNTE teachers’ union, which began last week, will not resume until the highway blockades are lifted.
Meanwhile, dissident teachers in Michoacán and Guerrero began applying more pressure Thursday in the absence of progress in government negotiations, hijacking transport trucks and erecting highway roadblocks.
While private passenger vehicles were allowed to pass, trucks carrying soft drinks, beer and refrigerated foods were halted and seized.
For the same reason CNTE members in Michoacán also hijacked some transport trucks which they used to block various highways, including Morelia-Pátzcuaro, Uruapan-Teretan and the Siglo XXI freeway.
The teachers have vowed to intensify their efforts with blockades throughout the country and at points on the borders. The union also announced a “massive mobilization” in Mexico City.
It also promised to publish a document that would propose a solution to the conflict by abolishing education reform and outlining a process for “the transformation of education.”
Osorio Chong said the situation was “at the limit,” that limit being the violation of the rights of the majority of citizens of Oaxaca and Chiapas. He said that dialogue has not been exhausted and never would be, but there had to be favorable circumstances “not for the government, but for the people” for it to continue.
The Interior Secretary said the government had an obligation to restore stability by “using the legal tools of the state.”
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