The conflict between members of teacher’s trade union and the government witnessed an abrupt transformation when the clash between teachers and police escalated leaving six people dead and around hundred injured. What started as a peaceful protest by the union against government’s education policy and the arrest of its two leaders turned violent for which the police had to extricate protestors who were blocking a highway in the southern state of Oaxaca.
Where police have indicated the role of infiltrators who they say effected the massacre, thousands of teachers protested in southern Mexico on Monday, deprecating the massacre and demanding justice for the deaths and injuries of those people which included not just the officers but civilians as well. The National Education Workers Coordinator (CNTE) were leading protests against the education reforms across the state of Oaxaca and the police were deployed to break a week-long road blockade by the CNTE in Asuncion Nochixtlan, near Oaxaca city.
The unidentified gunmen opened fire on the population, however, Federal police chief Enrique Galindo said that the teachers were not involved in the shooting. There have been variations even in the reporting that the police were carrying firearms in the clashes but the National Security Commission denied it. The Federal chief stated that weapons were used only when they were ambushed by 2000 radicals in which some were armed. Autopsies are being conducted to ascertain whether the deaths were because of the police bullets.
What is yet to be decided is whether the role of the unmasked gunmen was of the radicals or infiltrators. The government has excluded the role of teachers and reprehended ‘other groups’ in the perpetration. The six deaths include two shopkeepers, a farmer, a worker, a student and a local official, according to Governor Gabino Cue. Meanwhile, Juan Garcia, a leader of Section 22 of the CNTE union reported that 22 other people were missing.
The CNTE has been unwaveringly opposing the Pena Nieto’s education reform which requires teachers to undergo performance evaluations. The government emphasizes it as an attempt to improve the quality of education however; the union says that this attempt is more indicative as a pretext of firing teachers and privatizing education. The leaders of the union were arrested on separate charges. Ruben Nunez faces money laundering charges and his deputy Francisco Villalobos is accused of stealing textbooks. Since the arrest of these two high profile union leaders, the unrest near the state has intensified.