Protesting teachers end rail blockade in western Mexico
Teachers affiliated with the CNTE union announced Thursday an end to their blocking of railways in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, ending 24 days of protests.
Union official Victor Zavala Hurtado informed the media that the CNTE would allow the passage of trains and enter into a dialogue with the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the state government of Michoacan.
Even so, the strike affecting 10,000 schools in Michoacan will continue until 32,000 teachers receive accumulated arrears in salaries, bonuses and other compensation, the powerful union said.
The administration of Gov. Silvano Aureoles said that as of Thursday, salary payments to CNTE members were up-to-date, and that it would seek resources from the federal government to cover the pending bonuses and other compensation due to the teachers.
Authorities in Michoacan said that teachers continued to occupy 70 of the state’s 113 town halls on Thursday, as well as shopping centers and banks.
The blockade of railways led to an accumulation of about 2 million tons of products in the Pacific coast port of Lazaro Cardenas.
Businesses in Michoacan have offered a preliminary estimate of 7.5 billion pesos ($395 million) in economic losses because of the CNTE protests.
Lopez Obrador on Thursday hailed the decision of the CNTE to end the blockade and urged the teachers to find solutions to their demands through dialogue and without causing harm to other sectors of society.
Known for being one of Mexico’s most militant unions, the CNTE is especially strong across the southern third of Mexico.
The organization developed its confrontational tactics in opposition to the 2013 educational overhaul of then-President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Last month, Lopez Obrador fulfilled a campaign promise by sending a bill to Congress to overturn his predecessor’s education program in favor of a new plan formulated in consultation with parents and teachers.
The leftist president said that all stakeholders must be part of any plan to improve education.