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In Mexico, Teachers Unions And Federal Police Literally Get In Gunfights

REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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Unionized teachers in Mexico fought cops Sunday in a battle that led to 25 arrests, more than 100 people injured, and seven dead, including Mexican journalist Elidio Ramos Zárate, who was caught in the middle of a gunfight between protesters and cops.

The largest teachers’ union, The National Coordinator of Education Workers, (CNTE as it is known by its Spanish acronym) in Oaxaca State decided to go to war against the Mexican authorities after a couple of their top bosses got picked up for corruption June 11. Mexican Federal Police Chief Enrique Galindo stated that the clashes claimed the lives of four teachers and two students.

The CNTE has 200,000 members across Mexico, but its stronghold is in southern states, such as Oaxaca.

Violence broke out between protesters and Mexican Federal Police as the police were trying to clear a road blocked with protesters. At one point, gunshots rang out and were further exchanged by both sides.

The teachers’ union is opposed to a 2013 law that would force evaluations of educators. In response to the arrest of their union leadership, the teachers blocked roads heading towards Mexico City throughout the previous week.

At first, the Mexican government denied that Los Federales shot at protesters, but Galindo later admitted that armed personnel were sent in after “unidentified people” shot at cops and protesters according to BBC News. Police busted the second-in-command of the teachers’ union for stealing students’ textbooks in order to resell them to teachers at marked up prices.

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