Mexico: Guerrero teachers trash party offices
Thousands of teachers marched in Chilpancingo, the capital of the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero, on April 24 to protest the Guerrero legislature's vote the day before to ratify a national education "reform" plan proposed by Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. The march—sponsored by the State Organizing Committee of Education Workers in Guerrero (CETEG), an organization of dissident local members of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE)—stopped at the headquarters of various political parties, where masked participants vandalized offices. The main damage was at the office of Peña Nieto's party, the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); the attackers, armed with clubs, broke windows, threw furniture, papers and plants into the street, tore up a photograph of the president and started a fire in the office, which firefighters put out. There were also attacks on the offices of the center-right National Action Party (PAN), the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and social democratic Citizens' Movement (formerly Convergence for Democracy).
Within hours Guerrero governor Angel Aguirre Rivero announced that the state government would stop all negotiations with the CETEG and that arrest warrants had been issued for two of its leaders, Minervino Morán and Gonzalo Juárez; the governor described them as the force behind the vandalism. Aguirre also claimed that activities were normal at 95% of the state's schools despite a strike carried out by CETEG supporters since March. Apparently there was confusion in the state government: at almost the same time Governance Secretary Humberto Salgado Gómez blamed the damage on "people infiltrated" into the protest. "What happened here was acts of barbarism," he said. "It's not a question of teachers but of people who are alien to the movement." Later he changed course and said the state was investigating the teachers for the vandalism. (AFP, April 24, via Prensa Libre, Guatemala; El Economista, Mexico, April 24; La Jornada, Mexico, April 25)
Meanwhile, the National Education Workers Coordinating Committee (CNTE), the national organization of SNTE dissidents, concluded its Fifth National Education Conference in Mexico City on April 27 with an affirmation of its commitment to opposing the "reform" program; the group called for teachers, parents, students and social organizations to prepare for an open-ended national strike in defense of education. The group's National Political Directorate agreed to meet on April 30 to plan the strategies they would apply after the traditional May 1 labor marches. (LJ, April 28)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 28.