Deadly Clashes Break Out Between Police And Striking Mexican Teachers

Jul 6, 2016
Originally published on July 6, 2016 7:58 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's move now to Mexico where thousands of teachers are still on strike, despite threats from government officials to end their protests. Clashes between police and protesters last month left nine people dead and a hundred injured when police tried to stop teachers from blocking roads and highways. As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, one of those protesters died yesterday from a head wound sustained during those violent clashes.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Officials with the Section 22 teachers union say a local professor died Tuesday in the southern state of Oaxaca. Serious clashes between police and protesters occurred on June 11. Jose Caballero Julian who died yesterday taught indigenous elementary school students in the state.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Speaking Spanish)

(SOUNDBITE OF WHISTLE SOUNDING)

KAHN: Hundreds of teachers remain on strike in Oaxaca and continue blocking roads, like this one set up outside the state's capital.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Speaking Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: (Speaking Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: Middle school teacher Jose Angel Diaz Labastida and fellow protesters force a trailer truck to the side of the road. The teachers have been restricting truck traffic for weeks.

JOSE ANGEL DIAZ LABASTIDA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "We are willing to sit down and negotiate with the government whenever and wherever," says Diaz.

Teachers are upset about recent national reforms requiring educators to pass standardized tests. They say the new laws are more aimed at controlling their union than improving Mexico's education system. The prolonged strike and road blocks have been most intense in Oaxaca and the southern state of Chiapas, leading to food and gas shortages. The government recently airlifted tons of basic foodstuffs to affected communities.

Despite having warned the striking teachers to remove the roadblocks, Mexico's interior secretary now says he will meet with them on Monday. Parent Veronica Ruiz Ramirez (ph) says the unresolved conflict has the state on edge.

VERONICA RUIZ RAMIREZ: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "It's a tense calm here in Oaxaca," she says, just days before the school year is drawing to an end. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Oaxaca, Mexico. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.