KJZZ is a service of Rio Salado College, and Maricopa Community Colleges
Privacy Policy | FCC Public File | Contest Rules
Copyright © 2024 KJZZ/Rio Salado College/MCCCD
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Six Dead After Teacher Protests In Oaxaca, Mexico

In the State of Oaxaca, Southern Mexico, six people are reported dead and at least 53 injured after the local police clashed last Sunday with protesters from a teachers union.

The tragedy is part of a three-year story of confrontations between teacher organizations and the Mexican Government.

Police tried to dislodge protesters blocking a highway in Nochixtlán, at the southern state of Oaxaca. The blockade, as others in the past, attempted to affect traffic, as well as the transportation of fuel from refineries and gas stations.

Violence erupted in the middle of confusion, gunshots and explosion — probably from Molotov cocktails — were heard, according to witnesses and reports from local media.

According to the Government of Oaxaca, none of the six deceased are members of the teachers union and attributes the violence to infiltrated masked gunmen. The deaths and the gunshots are still part of an ongoing investigation.

Most of the protesters were part of the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación or CNTE, one of the two main teacher unions. The CNTE used to be a very powerful union since it had strong links to the Government while led by Elba Esther Gordillo for more more than 20 years. This changed after Gordillo was arrested in 2013 accused of corruption, money laundering and organized crime.

Since 2013, several unions and teacher organizations from public schools have protested against the Education Reform brought by President Enrique Peña Nieto, but also against the recent detention of some of its leaders for alleged corruption and violence.

The CNTE opposes to key components of the Education Reform, particularly to the new requirement where teachers need to be monitored and evaluated by the State.

Mexico is a country with a long history of protests of this kind. To rally is a constitutional right, but sometimes they may turn violent or controversial, like last Sunday in Oaxaca. Some protests affect in the short term the operations of businesses, factories and highways, as well as traffic.

So far, in this particular case, there has been no direct effect registered on the US or the bilateral relations between both countries.

Oaxaca has been a key state for the mobilizations, but other states have also witnessed rallies led by teacher unions. Last week, in Mexico City, the CNTE protested in front of TV stations, corporations, government offices and even attempted to block some of the main highways that connect the city with other states.

This Monday, leaders of the CNTE teacher trade union also demanded the resignation of Mexico’s Secretary of Education, Aurelio Nuño, and the Governor of Oaxaca, Gabino Cué.

Rodrigo Cervantes is KJZZ’s bureau chief in Mexico City, where he was born and raised. He has served as opinion writer, contributor and commentator for several media outlets and organizations in Mexico and the United States, including CNN, Georgia Public Broadcasting and Univisión. Cervantes previously worked as the business editor and editorial coordinator for El Norte, the leading newspaper in Monterrey and a publication of Grupo Reforma, Mexico’s premier news group. In Mexico City, Cervantes served in Reforma as a reporter, special correspondent, editor and special sections coordinator. Cervantes also held the editor position at MundoHispánico, a division of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Georgia’s oldest and largest Latino newspaper. He also participated as one of the first members of the Diversity Advisory Group for Cox Media. In 2012, Cervantes was appointed as fellow for the Leadership Program of The New York Times/Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, as well as for the "Líderes Digitales" program from the International Center for Journalists. In 2010, he was awarded with the Poynter-McCormick Leadership Fellowship. Cervantes graduated with honors in communication sciences and journalism from the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM), Mexico City Campus. Later, he was granted the Fundación Carolina Scholarship from the Spanish government to obtain an MBA degree at San Pablo-CEU School of Business (Madrid). Other awards include: the Power 30 Under 30 Award for Professional and Community Excellence in Atlanta, the Outstanding Alumni Medal from ITESM, and several José Martí Awards for Journalism Excellence from the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP). Cervantes enjoys music, books, travel, friendship, good mezcal and the occasional company of his guitar.