This Week in Latin America: Mexico’s Union Trouble

08/22/2016 Americas Quarterly

education - classroomEducation Reform in Mexico: The CNTE teachers’ union says it will not return to classes today for the start of the new school year. Union members have for months been protesting an education reform package that would require teacher evaluations and curtail the practice of members purchasing or inheriting teaching positions. The CNTE says the reform is unfairly weighted against teachers in rural areas, and have called on the government to meet a list of demands to alter the proposed laws. The teachers’ strike will be most widespread in the restive states of Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, and Chiapas, where the CNTE exerts considerable power over local politics and recent demonstrations against the reforms have led to violent clashes with police.

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Mexico’s Pemex on alert for any new road blockades at top refinery

06/22/2016 Reuters

pemexRowdy teacher protests in southern Mexico have caused delays and bottlenecks in transporting fuel from the country’s top refinery in Salina Cruz, and state oil giant Pemex is on alert for new roadblocks, a company official said on Wednesday.

Blockades on Tuesday caused long lines of tanker trucks unable to transport fuels for hours.

Late last week, Pemex warned that road blockades by protesters could cause the facility’s storage tanks to reach their limits and potentially force the company to shut the refinery, Pemex’s biggest with a capacity to process 330,000 barrels of crude per day.

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Six Killed, Dozens Injured as Teachers, Police Clash in Southern Mexico

06/20/2016 The Wall Street Journal

oaxacaMEXICO CITY—Six protesters were killed and dozens of protesters and police were injured Sunday in clashes in southern Mexico when security forces cleared roads being blocked by members of a teachers’ group, Oaxaca state authorities said.

The clashes occurred as state and federal police sought to unblock a highway in southern Oaxaca state which the CNTE, a dissident faction of the national teachers union, had blocked to protest the arrests last week of several of the group’s leaders.

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Officials wrench control of schools back from radical union in Mexico’s restive Oaxaca state

9/4/15 US News

Student by flickr user RightIndexIt looked like a normal first day of school at Patria Libre elementary. Uniformed kids sporting brand-new backpacks with their favorite cartoon characters — Dora the Explorer, Hello Kitty, the “Frozen” heroines — reunited with classmates and sang the national anthem.

But that’s far from normal in Oaxaca, a Mexican state where teachers’ strikes and protests cost the average student 50 days out of the 200-day academic calendar last year, according to federal education officials.

Year after year, protesting teachers have blocked highways and cut off oil refineries. Residents of the capital have fled rocks and tear gas from clashes with police. And the city’s colonial plaza, one of the most picturesque in Mexico, is often filled with tent camps of demonstrators instead of tourists.

“Every year there has been a strike. … I’ve seen my kids falling behind, and we’ve had to support them at home so they can learn,” said Claudia Rodriguez Sosa, a 33-year-old mother of three students from pre- to high school.

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Op Ed: Mexico’s critical, fragile compromises

The Globe and Mail, 11/15/2013

MEXICO CONGRESSJust about everything except the mouths of politicians seems to the paralyzed in the U.S. political system, especially Congress. Getting one big thing done seems next to impossible.

In Canada, the government can get things through the Commons and Senate, courtesy of its majority in both houses. But negotiate with the opposition parties? Are you crazy?

In Mexico, by contrast, something remarkable and controversial is unfolding. In less than a year, President Enrique Pena Nieto and his party are negotiating with both other parties in Congress on an array of reforms that would leave the legislatures of Canada and the United States breathless.

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Protesting Mexico teachers may decamp in time for president’s ‘cry’

Los Angeles Times, 9/13/2013

protests by Edu-TouristPossible 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.

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Mexico’s left wages campaign to derail Peña Nieto’s agenda

Los Angeles Times, 9/9/2013

protest -- stroke -- resistanceIn 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.