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Striking Mexican Teachers Pledge to Continue Fight for Change

The CNTE union reiterated its support for protests in Oaxaca, calling on teachers to strengthen the fight against the government.

Striking Mexican teachers are preparing a comprehensive agenda ahead of negotiations with government officials while remaining firm in their support for protests in Oaxaca—the violent state response to which was a “crime against humanity,” the CNTE teachers union said in a statement Tuesday.

After wrapping up a marathon session of talks with Interior Minister Osorio Chong in Mexico City in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the CNTE announced that its key priorities will be keeping negotiations moving forward, drafting a proposed agenda for the next round of talks and ramping up efforts to bring more teachers into the ranks of the struggle against neoliberal education policies.

The union added that “without a doubt” the negotiating process is “going slowly,” but that the leaders will not waver in “unreservedly” pushing for key demands of an overhaul of the public education model, overturning of neoliberal reforms and reparations for damages. The union has also called for an end to criminalization of its leaders.

 “We warn the people of Mexico that to make education into a big business, you have to promote free competition, deregulation of the education system, and eliminate all obstacles of the ‘protective state’ so that market forces are developed independently,” the CNTE said, implicitly slamming government reforms launched in 2013 under President Enrique Peña Nieto that have prompted mass layoffs of teachers.

“It’s no wonder that the struggles of teachers and the educational community in recent years have had the defense of public education as their central point,” the union continued.

The CNTE also reiterated its “steadfast support” for the mass teacher strikes in the southern state of Oaxaca, one of the areas where the national union has the strongest presence.

“We will accompany out Mixtec brothers and sisters through this whole process,” the statement reads, adding that it was a “partial achievement” of the struggle to see the federal government acknowledge that justice must be served for Oaxaca. A violent crackdown on teacher protects in Nochlixtlan, Oaxaca, on June 19 saw at least 9 people killed and dozens injured, sparking a national and international outcry over government repression and systemic human rights abuses.

The statement comes after CNTE leaders and Interior Ministry officials managed to agree on Tuesday morning that the dialogue process will focus in the immediate term on justice for Nochixtlan. The date of the next meeting between the two sides of the conflict has not been announced.

Interior Minister Osorio Chong has called on striking teachers to show a willingness to lift protest blockades in Oaxaca, though when pressed by media he added that ongoing protests would not jeopardize the negotiations, the Mexican daily La Jornada reported. Chong has promised businesses that “order” will be restored in Oaxaca in a matter of days.

Peña Nieto, on the other hand, said Tuesday from Ottawa, Canada—where he will participate in the North American leaders summit Wednesday—that the government “will not fall into provocations” in the face of teacher protests. He has said that the neoliberal education reforms teachers are protesting are not up for debate.

His Canadian counterpart, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, did not condemn the repression against teachers or Mexico’s dismal human rights record, but called for a “resolution” that respects human rights.

Despite the government’s position, the CNTE is determined to continue the fight.

“This situation demands that workers, and especially teachers, put themselves at the head of educational communities and fight for reorganization of the movement,” the CNTE statement concludes. “It calls for all forces that are struggling to link up to define coordinated action plans that unitedly confront the government’s policy against public education.”

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Striking-Mexican-Teachers-Pledge-to-Continue-Fight-for-Change-20160629-0001.html

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