Mexican Police Kill 6 in Clashes with Striking Oaxaca Teachers
Source: Telesur / The Dawn News / June 19, 2016. The Mexican government followed through on its threat to use force against striking teachers from the CNTE union.
Mexican police attacked teachers striking against neoliberal education reforms in the southern state of Oaxaca Sunday morning, killing at least six people and leaving dozens more injured.
Police were attempting to evict teachers from a road blockade on the Oaxaca-Puebla highway in the municipality of Nochixtlan when gunfire erupted, leading to violent clashes that lasted approximately four hours.
Teachers from the dissident CNTE union had set up the blockade as part of protests over an education reform implemented by President Enrique Peña Nieto and the arrest of several of the unions’ leaders over the past week.
In a press conference from the Mexican capital, a spokesperson for the union said the dead included Andres Aguilar Sanabria, 23, and Santiago Jimenez Aylin, 28, who have been identified as trainee teacher students. The spokesperson said there was a third fatality but did not provide any details.
The union spokesperson blamed the police forces who participated in the eviction for the three deaths, calling it an “attack,” and asked the government to dialogue with the striking teachers.
The death toll of five demonstrators was later confirmed by the public prosecutor’s office in Oaxaca. Meanwhile, Proceso magazine reported six deaths.
Users on social media said that dozens of the injured were left untreated after the police seized the hospital in Nochixtlan and only allowed injured police access. Injured demonstrators were reportedly treated inside a nearby church.
Another clash between demonstrators and police took place in the city port of Salina Cruz, in Oaxaca as well, where another group of teachers were blockading a road that connects the state with its neighbors on the Pacific coast. Local media also reported dozens of injured protesting teachers and dozens of arrests, however authorities have not said anything on this case.
Renato Sales Heredia, national security commissioner, warned last week that the government would use force to repress mobilizations by striking teachers and their sympathizers.
Heredia said that a “moderate use of force” would be used to clear out these types of protests, but would only be used as a “last resort.”
In Mexico, common protest tactics include shutting down major highways or staging protest camps in front of government offices.
Before Sunday’s events, hundreds of academic, religious, popular, student, human and social rights organizations around the world signed a document Friday that condemns the “brutal repression” exerted by the Mexican government against teachers who reject the education reform by President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Peña Nieto unveiled an education reform in 2013 as part of a set of 11 neoliberal reforms implemented in his first 20 months of power.
The controversial law imposes teacher evaluations in order to determine which applicants will be chosen to fill open posts in the public school system nationwide. Critics say the testing only justifies mass layoffs and does not effectively measure teaching skills, like the special knowledge and demeanor needed to teach in rural areas and Indigenous communities.
Teachers march to Televisa to protest against Repression
After the clashes in Nochixstlán, Oaxaca, between members of the section 22 of the CNTE union and the federal and state police, teachers marched toin the City of Mexico from the La Ciudadela Square to the offices of Televisa Chapultepec to expressed their rejection on of this repression.
Teachers, mostly from Oaxaca, left the blockade, that the CNTE had installed in La Ciudadela almost 3 weeks ago, to start marching towards the TV Station, a few blocks away. There, they regretted that the government “is offering bullets instead of dialogue”.
The situation in Oaxaca is still very extremely tense, so they will be on alert to avoid new attacks. According to the information they have, the police used firearms against protesters. The teachers blamed the Federal Governments of Enrique Peña Nieto and the State government of Gabino Cué for the repression, the deaths (so far, 6 killed were officially informed) and all repressive acts that can arouse occured.
Police Repression in Photos: