Thursday 23 October 2014

Teachers attack political offices

Published 25/04/2013 | 07:06

A protestor runs past office furniture set to fire by teachers in protest against Mexican president Pena Nieto's education reform project (AP)
Protesting teachers stand outside of the regional offices of the Revolutionary Institutional Party (AP)

Striking teachers in Mexico's Guerrero state have attacked the offices of four political parties and a building of the state's education department after the legislature approved an education reform without meeting their demands.

Dozens of teachers carrying sticks and stones smashed windows, spray-painted insults at President Enrique Pena Nieto on walls and destroyed computers and furniture. They set fire to the state headquarters of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party and another building.

No injuries were reported as the teachers, some masked, ran wild after a protest march in the state capital of Chilpancingo.

Minervino Moran, a spokesman for the strikers, said the attacks were in response to the approval by Mr Guerrero's legislators of legislation similar to a recently adopted federal education law that requires teachers to be evaluated and that seeks to remove control over hiring and firing from the teachers' union.

"We as leaders and as a movement endorse these actions because there is a lot of anger, a lot of outrage with the decision the (state) congress made," said Moran, a spokesman for Guerrero state's Education Workers Union.

The 20,000-member group went on strike in Guerrero state, where the resort city of Acapulco is located, shortly after Pena Nieto signed into law the sweeping education reform two months ago. Its members have since staged increasingly disruptive protests, including blocking the main highway connecting Mexico City to Acapulco.

Guerrero governor Angel Aguirre said in a tweet that prosecutors had issued arrest warrants for Moran and another union leader because they were the "masterminds of the acts of vandalism that took place today." Television footage showed teachers trashing each of the buildings without the intervention of authorities.

The governor told Radio Formula that police did not try to stop the attacks because officers were busy guarding the government palace and legislature building.

The national education law was seen as Pena Nieto's first major legislative victory after taking office on December 1. The constitutional amendment eliminates Mexico's decades-old practice of allowing the buying and selling of teaching jobs, and replaces it with a standardized national teaching test.

That is heresy to a radical splinter union of primary and high school teachers in Guerrero, one of the country's poorest and worst-educated states. The teachers claim the test is a plot to fire them all as a step toward privatising education, although there is little evidence the government plans that.

Press Association

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