Mexico City: teachers clash with riot police

Teachers from the National Coordination of Education Workers (CNTE) clashed with capital police and elite Federal Preventative Police at blockades of the federal Government Ministry and the central offices of the national TV network Televisa in Mexico City May 31. The blockades were called to protest the reform now pending in Mexico’s Congress of the State Workers Social Services and Security Institute (ISSSTE). Televisa was chosen as a target because the CNTE says its reportage has mis-represented their cause, and to demand that their statements be given air time. The protesters also demanded the nationalization of Televisa as well a halt to the proposed semi-privatization of the ISSSTE.

A series of protests and street blockades against the ISSSTE reform have been held in Mexico City in recent days by the CNTE as well as the union representing teachers at the national university, STUNAM. (La Jornada, May 31)

The CNTE is a dissident current within the National Syndicate of Education Workers (SNTE), Mexico’s giant teachers union.

See our last posts on Mexico and the teachers struggle.

  1. Mexico: teachers protests spread
    From Weeekly News Update on the Americas, June 3:

    Tens of thousands of Mexican teachers held strikes and protests in 13 states and the Federal District (DF, Mexico City) on June 1 in a continuation of protests against changes to the Law of the State Workers Social Security and Services Institute (ISSSTE); the changes would raise the retirement age and set up personal pension accounts which the teachers say could be privatized. The protests were led by the National Education Workers Organizing Committee (CNTE), a dissident caucus in the huge National Education Workers Union (SNTE), which is dominated by the formerly ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

    In the DF, thousands of CNTE supporters, joined by members of the Autonomous National University of Mexico Workers Union (STUNAM), tied up downtown traffic in the morning with four separate marches converging on the main plaza, the Zocalo. Police used tear gas to remove STUNAM members who seized control of a toll booth on the highway to Cuernavaca, Morelos, and marchers hurled eggs, tomatoes, bottles and paint at the headquarters of the PRI and the ruling center-right National Action Party (PAN) and at the Chapultepec offices of the giant television corporation Televisa. Marchers complained that other unions only gave token support to the protests. There were also tensions between STUNAM members and CNTE supporters, who booed STUNAM leader Agustin Rodriguez when he called for unity at the rally in the Zocalo.

    In the southern state of Oaxaca, the SNTE’s militant Section 22, whose five-month strike last year set off a social explosion in the state, supported the protest with a one-day strike that closed 13,000 schools. More than 50,000 teachers held a one-day strike in the southeastern state of Chiapas.

    In Morelos, south of the DF, some 300 teachers and university workers occupied a toll booth in Alpuyeca for six hours and let motorists on to the Sun Highway without paying. In Ocoyoacac, in Mexico state, about 300 teachers from SNTE Section 9 took over 14 toll booths; there were no incidents, and the teachers withdrew at noon. In Baja California Norte, some 1,000 teachers kept cars from crossing into the US at Mexicali for about three hours. In Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, hundreds of CNTE supporters blocked the Zaragoza international bridge for three hours, keeping more than 500 trailers and trucks from transporting merchandise between Mexico and the US.

    In Chilpancingo, capital of the southern state of Guerrero, 300 protesters held a rally at the state office building and blocked a toll booth on the highway to Mexico City, letting tourists pass for free. But one old campesino complained that Lucio Cabanas, a teacher and rebel leader in the 1970s, “didn’t go around marching and holding sit-ins, he went around shooting bullets. Let’s burn down the state office building. Stop marching around like jerks.” (La Jornada, June 2)