Just four days after they had been evicted from CDMX — the new moniker for Mexico City — some 4,000 members of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union returned to Mexico City Wednesday with new traffic disruption tactics.
Before entering the city the teachers made a “technical stop” at the Toluca toll bridge outside of Mexico City and blockaded the traffic-heavy Toluca-Mexico City super highway for five hours. They were finally talked into releasing the thousands of vehicles and drivers they were holding hostage on both sides of the road.
Then the darlings moved on downtown where they staged their now too familiar urban guerrilla warfare tactics of blocking traffic in different points, beginning with north-south main thoroughfare Bucareli Street, which by the way, was occupied by a different group of plaintiffs who posted a giant sign demanding “FUERA GRACO” (kick Graco out).
At noon I went to Café La Habana, where throngs of journalists gather daily for the gossip trade, and my friend Moctezuma informed me that “eight monkeys from Cuernavaca” wanted to oust Morelos state Gov. Graco Ramírez.
Bucareli was delightfully open from Saturday to Monday before it was used again “to strangle” Mexico City traffic for political gain.
But the Wednesday marches by the CNTE teachers took a different dimension as they hit a total of eight different traffic bottlenecking points. As you might imagine, this had the regular city dwellers screeching with rage, not just because they were being victimized by this group of “monkeys,” (I loved Moctezuma’s description of the Morelos protesters) but because on top of that they cost drivers tons of money, as motors keep running burning gas, which ain’t cheap under President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration.
Among central avenues, the teachers from the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacán and Chiapas blockaded main avenue Reforma, where they marched to deliver a list of petitions to the Mexican Senate, located on the corner of Reforma and Insurgentes. Obviously, Insurgentes traffic was also bottlenecked.
Afterwards they let the cheerful, smiling and applauding Mexico City residents know that they would stick around “for a few days” to continue with their street blockades.
They had decided to spend Wednesday night on Bucareli near the Interior Secretariat headquarters, but they were “asked” to move their camp to the nearby Ciudadela Square, which they finally agreed to and that’s where they are camping now.
What was made clear last week by the Interior and Education secretaries Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong and Aurelio Nuño Mayer respectively, is that they are not going to talk to the leaders of the teachers.
Interior Secretary Osorio Chong says that the Education Reform they want to topple by force is being applied and that the great majority of teachers have undergone the much feared evaluation exams. Politically speaking, Osorio Chong says, there’s nothing to discuss, as the Education Reform was approved by both houses of Congress and is politically correct.
Education Secretary Nuño Mayer — who now has to confront the CNTE protesters — says the 4,000 teachers now in Mexico City represent less than 1 percent of the total of 1.2 million working teachers in the nation and that 99 percents of the schools in the four states the teachers come from, controlled by the CNTE union, are in service.
Nuño Mayer was clear in recognizing that the CNTE represents a sizable part of teachers but that their demand to do away with the Education Reform would not come under discussion.
Both Osorio Chong and Nuño Mayer had said similar things a week ago when they managed to kick the protesters out of Mexico City.
Yet Nuño Mayer admits that “there’s a difficult, hard and complex political process underway,” given the CNTE resistance to accept the new rules of the game, but that the only option they had, and are using, was “blackmailing” the government, which will not happen.
“It makes no sense for them to continue in a struggle that only seeks to pressure authorities to recover lost privileges, such as the sale and inheritance of teaching posts, pressuring the teachers to leave children without classes and pressuring the federal government, a blackmail we’re not going to take.”
Nuño Mayer insists that this group is “a minority” and politically means nothing, but now Nuño Mayer, with his stance, is irking Mexico City citizens because on Wednesday, once again as in many times in the past, this “minority” drove Mexico City traffic berserk, a point Secretary Nuño Mayer seems not to see or care about, as the CNTE “monkeys” continue their vicious siege of Mexico City.