October 15, 2013
As flames engulfed the policeman’s legs and arms, his comrades stood by watching, stunned. A steady barrage of rocks bounced off the wall of plastic shields flanking him. By nighttime on October 2nd in Mexico City, 111 policemen, protesters and journalists had been injured and 102 people arrested during the annual march to commemorate a student massacre in 1968.
Street protests have long been a staple of Mexican politics and culture, a powerful outlet for millions of people who feel alienated from the political class. But over the last year, they have become more frequent, volatile and violent, analysts say, a response to major domestic policy shifts and growing alienation among the young and unemployed. The makeup of the protesters is also shifting, with men who refer to themselves as anarchists unleashing their fury during some marches.
On a regularly basis now, Mexico City’s streets swell with protesters demanding everything from a halt to some of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ambitious education and energy overhaul programs, to the creation of more uncensored media outlets, to a greater number of student slots at public universities.
October 15, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 10/13/2013
Tens of thousands of teachers are scheduled to return to school on Monday after their nearly-two-month strike shut out almost 1.3 million children in Oaxaca, setting the stage for violent clashes with parents who pledged to block their return.
During the teachers’ absence, parents, with help from teachers from a nonstriking union, opened dozens of schools in the poor southern state of Oaxaca, including one here at Mitla, a town that draws many tourists to its imposing pre-Columbian ruins.
October 9, 2013
The Washington Post, 10/8/2013
Protesters converged on the Mall on Tuesday afternoon to call on Congress to pass a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration and border control laws by year’s end.
At least 100 people were arrested, including several members of Congress, after demonstrators sat down in the street in front of the Capitol. Protesters had vowed to engage in civil disobedience, and their fellow marchers cheered as each person was led away in handcuffs by Capitol Police.
September 30, 2013
The Washington Post, 9/28/2013
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is entering a critical stage of his term, analysts say, as his administration faces growing resistance to its wide-ranging, fast-track push to remake the country’s institutions.
Peña Nieto is under fire from Mexico’s left for taking on powerful teachers unions and for a proposal to open the state oil monopoly to private investment. On the right, opposition is building to his plan for tax hikes on the wealthy, corporations and a broad share of the middle class.
September 16, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 9/13/2013
Manuel Mondragon, the head of Mexico’s federal police, said before the crackdown that the teachers had been given a 4 p.m. deadline to leave. “They have hurt Mexico and many other cities,” he said. “I think this is reaching its limit and we will act. This is not a game. We will do our job.”
In exchange for leaving the Zócalo, the government agreed to provide extra funds to pay for teacher training and for building and repairing schools in poor southern states such as Oaxaca, Michoacan, Guerrero and Chiapas, which are a stronghold for the radical teachers, said a former government official who took part in the negotiations with the teachers.
September 13, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 9/13/2013
Possible good news for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto: A leader of a striking teachers union whose campouts and roadblocks have wreaked havoc on this chaotic capital for weeks suggested Thursday that the group would probably clear out of the historic main square to allow the president to issue the famous “Cry of Independence” there Sunday evening.
Francisco Bravo, the leader of a branch of the striking National Coordinator of Education Workers, or CNTE, said in a radio interview that “all signs indicate that we’re leaving” the massive tent city that the group erected weeks ago in the Zocalo, or central square, according to the news service Milenio.
September 9, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 9/9/2013
In recent weeks, thousands of members of a feisty teachers union have descended upon Mexico City, blocking streets to protest an education reform measure that includes a controversial new scheme for evaluating teachers. Last weekend, they were joined by thousands more people who oppose Peña Nieto’s plan to open the state-owned oil company, a longtime source of national pride, to foreign investment.
August 30, 2013
The 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…
This week, teachers’ protests were one of the main topics on debate. Mexico City was (is) paralyzed by teachers who belong to the “Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación” union. The main driver of the protests, as reported by The Washington Post, is the Government’s intention to overhaul the nation’s public schools by changing how teachers are hired, fired and evaluated.
As reported on our previous Weekly Summary, the teachers blocked the Nation’s Congress forcing lawmakers to work on the city’s outskirts. They destroyed several cars and blocked the main roads to the airport, causing thousands of passengers to miss their flights. This week the protests continued. They forced Mexico City’s marathon to reroute, and as pointed out by The Washington Post, hundreds of ski-mask-wearing, rock-throwing, teachers smashed windows and set fire to the offices of the major political party in Guerrero. Thousands more flooded Mexico City, blocking national TV networks, subway lines and swarming the roads around Los Pinos, the official residence of the President.
Read the rest of this entry »
August 26, 2013
The New York Times, 8/24/2013
Mexico’s highly anticipated education overhaul program — intended to weed out poorly performing teachers, establish professional hiring standards and weaken the powerful teachers’ union — is buckling under the tried-and-true tactic of huge street protests, throwing the heart of the capital into chaos.
A radical teachers’ group mobilized thousands of members in Mexico City last week, chasing lawmakers from their chambers, occupying the city’s historic central square, blocking access to hotels and the international airport, and threatening to bring an already congested city to a halt in the coming days.