Mexico: dissident teachers march against “reform”

Thousands of teachers from the National Education Workers Coordinating Committee (CNTE), the largest dissident group in Mexico’s 1.5 million-member National Education Workers Union (SNTE), marched in Mexico City on March 5 to protest a series of “educational reforms” that President Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law on Feb. 25. The teachers were also demanding the resignation of the new SNTE president, Juan Diaz de la Torre, who they say was appointed in a backroom deal after the Feb. 26 arrest of former president Elba Esther Gordillo Morales on charges of embezzling $157 million from union funds. According to the Federal District (DF, Mexico City) police, some 7,000 protesters joined the march from the central Zócalo plaza to the Los Pinos presidential palace, where a 10-member delegation presented officials with a petition.

Thousands of CNTE members outside Mexico City also protested, with demonstrations and a two-day national strike. Some 73,000 teachers demonstrated in the southern state of Oaxaca, with teachers blocking government buildings and commercial centers in the state capital, also named Oaxaca. They were supported by students from the Oaxaca Teachers College Students Coordinating Committee (Ceneo), who occupied tollbooths on the Oaxaca-Cuacnopalan highway for 10 hours, allowing motorists to pass for free. Thousands of teachers from SNTE Section 7 in the southeastern state of Chiapas protested at the entrances to two commercial centers in the state capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, and held a sit-in in the central park. Some 800,000 students missed classes because of the strike in the western state of Michoacán.

The CNTE, which was founded in 1979 and is based in the DF and the southern states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero and Michoacán, was also considering plans to file its own complaint against Gordillo for “decades of union bossism in which practically nothing from the dues reached the workers at the base.” (La Jornada, Mexico, March 6; EFE, March 6, via Latin American Herald Tribune)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 10.