Mexico mulls crackdown on dissident teachers' protests

Violent demonstrations break out in Guerrero state over education reform

Raquel Seco
Protestors in Chilpancingo, Mexico vandalize the local headquarters of the Democratic Revolutionary Party on Wednesday.
Protestors in Chilpancingo, Mexico vandalize the local headquarters of the Democratic Revolutionary Party on Wednesday. Lenin Ocapmo Torres (EFE)

The Mexican government of President Enrique Peña Nieto announced Thursday that it will crack down if needed on teachers who have been staging violent protests in the southeast state of Guerrero against the administration’s education reform.

On Thursday, teachers organized a demonstration in which hooded protestors marched on the streets of the state capital Chilpancingo where they threw rocks and other objects at the local offices of the National Union of Educational Workers (SNTE).

Afterward they broke the widows of several buildings in the capital before holding a noisy demonstration in front of the courthouse.

Peña Nieto’s chief of staff, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, told EL PAÍS that the government would send federal police officers “in case it is necessary” to quell the disturbances, which have been taking place since Wednesday when the teachers stormed the local headquarters of Mexico’s major parties.

They are fighting legislation introduced by Peña Nieto that will impose tougher standards on teachers and eliminate abuses in the system. The law will also take away control of teacher assessment from the powerful SNTE union, which for decades had the say on classroom hiring.

Guerrero Governor Ángel Aguirre explained that police control during the demonstrations has been limited because he feared that things could get out of hand. Nevertheless, he said that arrest warrants have been issued against two union leaders for instigating the violence.

The education reform is part of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) series of measures aimed at restructuring and modernizing Mexico’s institutions. The Pact for Mexico was signed by the PRI last December with the support of the two major opposition forces, National Action Party (PAN) and the Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD).

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