Teachers, Students & Protests – Weekly News Summary: April 26

Coffee by Flikr user samrevelThe Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English-language press had to say…

The much lauded Pacto por México was put to the test following the release of an audio recording in which PRI officials are heard discussing how to benefit electorally from a government anti-poverty program. The Los Angeles Times called it “the most serious political crisis of [Peña Nieto’s] young government.” Plans to announce a new reform to Mexico’s banks were postponed as Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong convened an emergency meeting with party leaders.

A small group of masked individuals seized the rectory building inside UNAM’s campus in Mexico City, protesting the expulsion weeks earlier of five students from one of the university’s preparatory high schools who were accused of vandalism. Meanwhile, members of the teachers’ union in Guerrero attacked the local offices of the four major political parties, setting the office of the ruling party, the PRI, on fire. The states of Oaxaca and Michoacán also experienced unrest.

The Christian Science Monitor published a piece questioning the recent optimism surrounding the Mexican economy, arguing “there are two sides to the coin when it comes to Mexico’s future as a global economic force.” A telecommunications reform bill that would give new government agencies the power to break up firms that control over 50% market share was sent back to the Senate for re-approval after Mexico’s lower house made small wording changes. Finally, it was announced that Herminio Blanco, a key negotiator who led Mexico in the NAFTA free trade talks will be up against Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo for the top post at the World Trade Organization.

What Mexican columnists had to say…

According to La Jornada, teacher-led protests continued in the state of Guerrero, and students from the liberal arts college occupied the UNAM’s rectory earlier this week. Jorge Fernández Menéndez asserted that the teachers’ opposition to education reform in Guerrero, the Zapatista uprisings in Chiapas, the mobilization in Michoacán, the seizure of the UNAM’s rectory, and Morena’s stance against the energy reform may pose a challenge to EPN’s future plans. Jorge Chabat and Jorge Fernandez criticized the students who have occupied the UNAM’s rectory since last Friday. On a similar note, Leo Zuckerman critiqued various issues concerning Mexico’s public education system; he argued that students and teachers that contribute to the system’s decay should be punished. Morelos Governor Graco Ramírez Abreu agreed with this opinion after teacher protesters vandalized public offices in Chilpancingo. Leo Zuckerman claimed that these acts of vandalism prove that teachers from the state of Guerrero do not seek to overthrow the state with a revolution, but rather are afraid that being held to higher standards will threaten their job security.

On the other hand, Emilio Gamboa asked Senate members to support the National Crusade Against Hunger while Rosario Robles was criticized for attempting to use social programs for electoral purposes. Even though the financial reform was supposed to be announced this week, the lack of attention given to Gustavo Madero’s complaint against the National Crusade Against Hunger may fracture the Pacto Por México. According to Carlos Martínez, the biggest concern with the Pacto is that it has suspended the reformist momentum that promised better conditions for the country. Even though Gustavo Madero met with Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong to discuss the issues that may affect the cross-party reformist agenda, PRD members condemned Rosario Robles’ role in the controversy. The parties are still trying to reach a consensus, but Ciro Gómez Leyva  claims the disagreements between the PAN, PRI, and PRD leaders will, in his opinion, inevitably end the Pacto Por México.

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