Photo: Protests in Mexico
Some 12,000 members of the militant CNTE teachers union blocked streets in this traffic-choked capital on Wednesday to protest the enactment of what they see as a “punitive” scheme for teacher evaluation.
Teachers and their supporters began the day by marching from downtown Mexico City to Los Pinos, the official residence of President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Officials declined to meet with a CNTE delegation and after around 30 minutes, the protesters returned to the central city, where they paralyzed traffic on several busy thoroughfares.
The CNTE activists, most of them from poor, rural areas with primitive infrastructure, gathered in the capital last month to dissuade Congress from passing laws to implement the educational overhaul Peña Nieto promulgated in February.
Lawmakers, however, eventually approved the law subjecting teachers to a comprehensive regime of evaluation.
The CNTE, representing a third of Mexico’s public school teachers, says it does not object in principle to evaluation, only to the “punitive” scheme devised by the government, which is seen as setting the stage for massive layoffs.
Wednesday’s demonstrations in the capital did not lead to any major incidents, sources in the municipal Public Safety Department told Efe.
Teachers also protested on Wednesday in 15 of Mexico’s 31 states.
One of the largest mobilizations was in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, where around 2,000 people shut down the Mexico City-Acapulco highway for four hours.
Students from the institutions known as normal schools, which prepare future primary-school instructors, joined teachers in blocking the expressway.
The education overhaul is the first fruit of the governance pact forged earlier this year by Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, with Mexico’s two other major political forces: the rightist PAN and the center-left PRD.