MEXICO CITY – Mexican teachers protesting education reform planned fresh protests yesterday shortly before Independence Day celebrations led by President Enrique Pena Nieto, organisers said. Protesters affiliated with the dissident CNTE teachers’ union plan to march from Angel of the Independence statue in downtown Mexico City to the Monument to the Revolution, where they moved their camp on Friday, CNTE secretary Francisco Javier Villalobos told AFP.
He said union representatives would meet to decide whether they would try to return to Zocalo square after the last celebrations today.
Hundreds of anti-riot police removed striking teachers from Zocalo square on Friday using water cannons and tear gas after some 200 demonstrators disobeyed a deadline to vacate the area to make room for the nation’s independence day celebrations yesterday and today.
Protesters responded with firebombs.
At least 29 protesters and 11 police officers were slightly injured in the clashes, while 31 people were detained.
Thousands of teachers had been occupying the plaza for the past three weeks, but most had left the plaza before the deadline, leaving makeshift tents and trash behind.
Traditionally, the president delivers the “Cry of Independence” from the National Palace balcony on the evening of September 15, shouting “Viva Mexico!” and waving the Mexican flag before a military parade the next day.
Pena Nieto signed an education reform last week that requires teachers to undergo mandatory performance evaluations. The teachers say the new rules violate their labour rights and open the door to arbitrary dismissal.
Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong has acknowledged that Friday’s raid did not resolve the teachers’ claims and expressed willingness to reach a negotiate settlement. – AFP.