from the LAHT
Members of Mexico’s CNTE teachers union stormed electoral offices in the southern state of Oaxaca on Monday as part of an effort to disrupt the June 7 nationwide regional and local elections.
The offices of the National Electoral Institute, or INE, in several Oaxaca municipalities were vandalized by CNTE militants who burned election materials.
In Oaxaca city, the state capital, protesters commandeered trucks belonging to multinational corporations, while another CNTE group occupied the facilities of state oil company Pemex in the town of El Tule.
Media outlets encountered problems trying to cover the incidents. A television reporter was taken prisoner briefly and many of the teachers reacted with hostility when journalists tried to photograph them.
During a session with the foreign press earlier Monday in Mexico City, INE chief Lorenzo Cordova announced the temporary closure of nine of the institute’s 11 offices in Oaxaca as a precaution amid the CNTE mobilization.
Though he acknowledged the “adverse context” created by crime, violence directed at candidates and the threats to disrupt the vote in Oaxaca and several other states, Cordova said the polling places would function normally on Sunday.
More than 83 million Mexicans are eligible to cast ballots to choose 500 federal legislators, nine state governors and hundreds of regional and local officeholders.
The election campaign has been marred by killings and a number of candidates have withdrawn after receiving death threats.
The teachers in Oaxaca, who have a tradition of political activism, are trying to disrupt the voting to dramatize their demand for the repeal of an education overhaul implemented in 2013 by President Enrique Peña Nieto.
A movement to prevent the balloting is also under way in the southern state of Guerrero, spearheaded by the parents of 43 trainee teachers who were kidnapped – and apparently slain – last September in an incident federal authorities have blamed on organized crime and corrupt local officials.
The parents, and their many supporters, reject the government’s account and complain of an ongoing cover-up.