Photo from Noticiasmx
Riot police have swept thousands of striking teachers out of the heart of Mexico City, driving protesters through the streets with tear gas and water cannons in a swift end to the weeks-long protests against education reforms.From McClatchy
Authorities did not immediately report any injuries. Federal police chief Manuel Mondragon said on Friday that more than 20 demonstrators were arrested.
The teachers, who had occupied the Zocalo square for three weeks, had been ordered to vacate the area ahead of the nation's independence day celebrations this weekend.
The protesters used steel grates and plastic traffic dividers to block the streets leading into the Zocalo, home to the Metropolitan Cathedral, Templo Mayor and National Palace, some of the city's best-known tourist attractions.
There was additional pressure to clear the Zocalo where the teachers had been camping out before the president's first traditional Independence Day celebration in the massive colonial-era square on Sunday and Monday.
The confrontation erupted after the teachers armed themselves with metal pipes and blocked off the Zocalo with steel grates and plastic traffic dividers, threatening to scuttle the Independence Day gathering.
The government responded that celebrations, including the president's shout of independence from a balcony of the National Palace overlooking the Zocalo, would take place in the square as scheduled on Sunday night.
It was a dramatic reassertion of state authority after weeks of near-constant disruption in the centre of one of the world's largest cities.
The teachers have been protesting education reforms that will require them to undergo annual evaluations and give up the ability to bequeath jobs to their offspring. The striking teachers have disrupted life in Mexico City repeatedly in the past two weeks, blocking the city’s main thoroughfare, the Paseo de la Reforma, forcing legislators to abandon the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, and snarling commutes in a city with already lengthy traffic tie-ups. At one point a week ago, the tent city held as many as 10,000 striking teachersFrom Noticiasmx (in Spanish)
Pena Nieto’s security spokesman, Eduardo Sanchez, announced earlier Friday that authorities had given the teachers until 4 p.m. to clear away the tent city.
When 4 p.m. rolled around, Sanchez told the Foro TV channel that “the teachers are pulling out, paying heed to our call for them to pull back.”
But hundreds remained, setting nylon tarps alight in bonfires in the square, and throwing rocks and homemade explosives at a phalanx of approaching riot police. A water cannon doused the protesters as they retreated to the periphery of the plaza, then to nearby streets.
Ruben Nunez, a leader of the teachers union branch from Oaxaca state, said infiltrators had mingled with striking teachers and were responsible for the vandalism.
Television images showed scattered fires in the downtown area, apparent evidence that some of the protesters had tossed firebombs.
Police did not give an immediate report on injuries, although television newscasts showed images of a handful of people bleeding from wounds.
In early evening, two leaders of the dissident Coordinator of National Educational Workers, Ruben Nunez and Francisco Bravo, arrived at the Interior Secretariat to hold talks about the ongoing strike.
A move to improve Mexico’s educational system and break the control of the national teachers union over schooling has been one of the most popular measures taken by Pena Nieto since he was sworn in Dec. 1.
In late February, his government arrested the powerful head of the union, Elba Esther Gordillo, on corruption charges. Congress passed sweeping proposals to yank control of hiring and firing from the union. Those laws went into effect Tuesday.
And then there are the oil protests
Tens of thousands of people have rallied against President Enrique Pena Nieto's economic reforms in Mexico's capital, with leftist leader calling for peaceful resistance.Locally, the plot thickens as a couple of PRD politicians have been assassinated for unknown reasons. Schools remained closed, but in some villages, there has been a shift towards hiring Section 59 teachers to replace the Section 22 ones. There have been marches in support of all sides.
Mexico City police said more than 40,000 people gathered in a park on Sunday’s demonstration to reject plans to overhaul the tax system and open the country's state-controlled oil industry to foreign investors.
"We can prevent the privatisation of the energy sector and the tax increases through peaceful citizen mobilization," said opposition leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who never recognised his defeat to Pena Nieto in the 2012 presidential election after claiming fraud.
"These energy and tax reforms were prepared abroad for the benefit of foreign companies, a commitment that Pena Nieto made with foreign companies in the United States and Britain," he said.
He called the oil reform a "vile and shameful robbery".
Lopez Obrador made his plea as Pena Nieto prepared to present a revamp of the tax system to increase the government's revenue stream amid reports that he may propose a controversial sales tax for food and medicine.
This clip comes to mind.
From the LAHT
Revenues from international tourists totaled $8.3 billion in the January-July period, up 7.2 percent compared to the same period in 2012, the Mexican Tourism Secretariat said.I sure hope someone figures this all out and that there are solutions to come.
Tourism revenues “continue rising this year,” the secretariat said, citing a Bank of Mexico report.