In Mexico, tens of thousands of striking teachers are continuing protests against an education overhaul they say is aimed at privatizing education and weakening their rights. For two weeks, the teachers have occupied the main square in Mexico City, demanding adequate funding for rural schools and policies that respect indigenous cultures. They oppose reforms touted by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, which include plans to base teacher hiring on mandatory evaluations. Educators in Mexico have a long history of resistance, including a key role in the 2006 uprising in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, where a crackdown on striking teachers sparked a massive popular movement against the governor. Alfonso Arellano, from Oaxaca’s Section 22 of the teachers’ union, spoke during a major protest on Sunday in Mexico City.
Alfonso Arellano: “We want Articles 3 and 73 to be repealed. The current government, the PRI government, has wrongly called this education reform, but really it is labor reform. Why? Why? Because it goes after our rights as workers. Educational reform would be structural and related to the curriculum and directly related to the students. This wrongly called labor reform is changing constitutional articles and putting into risk all of the labor rights that the national union and the national coordinator has gained with 30 years of struggle.”
At least four independent journalists were reportedly arrested at Sunday’s protest and two are now being held in prison. Peña Nieto delivered his state-of-the-union address on Monday instead of Sunday in a bid to avoid the unrest. Peña Nieto is also facing protests over plans to overhaul Mexico’s energy sector by opening the state-controlled oil company to investment from foreign multinationals.