The teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico have been protesting against the new reform for years since it was first presented in 2012. But yesterday, it was different. The protesters, who are known for having vandalized private buildings and damaged public property, were confronted by official armed forces that wanted to regain control of the areas taken by the rioters.

Consequently, chaos was unleashed, and the police officers had no choice but to use strength and try to get a hold of the situation. According to the local authorities, six civilians died in the resulting conflict, and there are also reports of 94 injured people between officials and rioters.

June 19, 2016: Protesting teachers who were blocking a federal highway hold their positions with a passenger bus across the road and burning trucks as they battle with riot police in the state of Oaxaca, near the town of Nochixtlan, Mexico. Credit: Fox News/AP

Everything started last Sunday when members of the teachers’ union altogether with collaborators started blocking main ways to protest against what they call “a brutal repression.” They organized blockades on different parts of the city including the Federal highway that connects Mexico and Cuernavaca, which is always busy. They began at 11:30 in the morning and they intended to continue doing so indefinitely. They would block the pass, then open it for 5 minutes just to block it again.

This worked for a while, but in Nochixtlán, the situation was very different. The members of the union stationed themselves in the highway that connects Oaxaca, Mexico, and a police operative was activated. According to Gabino Cué, Governor of the state of Oaxaca, the authorities considered the communities of Nochixtlán, San Pablo Huitzo and in general, the city of Oaxaca as a hostile zone.

So the officials authorized the police enforcers to use fire weapons to regain control of the occupied areas and re-establish the rule of law. The governor reports that six civilians died in the confrontation, and other 53 were injured. On the other hand, he said 41 police officers were injured including eight from gun shots.

The teachers do not want to be fired because of an evaluation

In 2012, the “Pact for Mexico” was approved by the Congress and a year later, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto endorsed the project. The reform establishes that every teacher in the country has to be evaluated without exception, and it also gave birth a federal agency that was tasked with testing the teachers. The National Institute for the Evaluation of Teachers (INEE for its name in Spanish) was given total liberty over their processes.

This project changed two major things; it added a new article that forces every teacher to go through a mandatory evaluation, and it also established that the results of these tests were going to affect their employment status such as promotions, acknowledgment and more importantly, their permanence in the position.

 “Those who don’t join the evaluation programs, and those whose results are not sufficient by the third evaluation will be separated from their positions as public employees, and the institutes both public and private will not be held accountant for it,” reads a memorandum with information about the reform.

Now, two big unions represent teachers in Mexico the CNTE and the SNET. Their members immediately raised their voices against the reform because they believe that teachers who have been working for a long time should not be fired over an evaluation. They added that the legal process eliminates the job security for many teachers that have been working for a long time, even decades.

“We consider that the inclusion of the word “permanency” violates the social statute laid down in our constitution. It creates a condition against the teaching professionals instead of protecting their rights” said Luiz Roldán, a senator from the political party New Alliance (NA).

The National Human Rights Commission will investigate the events

Like many other conflicts of similar nature, both sides in it blame the other for the violent acts. The unions of teachers accuse the state of killing its people, and they even compare it to a previous massacre that occurred in Oaxaca back in 1968.

These accusations have a base, especially since the governor accepted that the authorities had decided to use guns to neutralize the riots which are always seen as a sign of brutal repression. Moreover, some missing people never returned home after the conflicts, and some believe they were taken by the authorities.

However, the teachers’ fight has changed over time. In the beginning, they just protested the reform and wanted the president to call it off. But last weekend, they were asking for very different things. According to the spoke people, the teachers not only demand the reform to be eliminated, but they also want that the president Peña Nieto, the public education secretary, Aurelio Nuño, the administrative secretary, Miguel Osorio, and the governor to quit. In fact, they said they would continue with their national strike plans, and that the “combative, overwhelming, organized and disciplined actions” would multiply. They even called the communities to join them in civil disobedience.

The numbers don’t lie, and education in Mexico needs some serious changes if they want to improve their statistics. According to the OECD, even though the number of little children in schools has increased steadily, the number of teenagers that continue studying is low. What’s more, 68 out of 100 children finish the primary education, and when they get to high school, only 47% graduate.

Source: Fox News