Let there be no question about it: the “war” between rebel union National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) and President Enrique Peña Nieto is permanent.
On Sunday the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) announced that it continues to deliver work dismissal notifications to thousands of teachers who missed up to four classes over the past month, in accordance to Articles 75 and 76 of the General Service Law of Professional Teaching, which applies to all teachers on government payroll.
At the same time, after a late Friday meeting at presidential residence Los Pinos with President Peña Nieto representatives, the different members from union chapters attending came out fuming and threatening to radicalize their protests in Mexico City in order to force permanent talks between the union and the president.
At Los Pinos the half an hour conversation between the dumb and the deaf continued. The CNTE leaders demanded that the administration yield to their demand that the Education Reform be cancelled. The answer was a no and that they will continue to perform in accordance to the law.
SEP announced on Sunday that in the state of Oaxaca it already has 267 representatives delivering the layoff notices personally to the addresses of the teachers. Up until last notice 961 of the notices had been served. As for the remaining states of Chiapas, Guerrero and Michoacán, where the union control has territorial control, SEP announced “actions are being strengthened” to deliver the dismissal notices.
CNTE leaders also warned that those being fired by the government will become “a platoon of unemployed teachers” in a permanent war against the administration’s no budging position and that now, since those dismissed have nothing to lose, their actions may even turn violent.
They immediately announced several of the places where they will be blocking traffic in Mexico City, in well-known venues such as the Senate, the Supreme Court, the Mexican Stock Exchange and the Mexico City International Airport.
There will be also “actions” in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guerrero and Michoacán. In Oaxaca City, most of the downtown area is “taken,” forcing business to shut down and preventing tourism — one of the city’s main staples — from visiting.
The leader of the Chiapas teachers’ lodge Adelfo Gómez says that they will make their rejection of the Education Reform their banner and “we will maintain the mobilization route as agreed to by our national assembly, which will be meeting any time now (Monday) to define the actions to take this coming week in Mexico City as well as in different states.”
Adelfo Gómez made it a point to say that “we’re not going to budge” on the demand they have made of cancelling the Education Reform, which they consider punitive against teachers but also that the government must “sit down and talk” in order to prevent their mass demonstrations. “We want dialogue, not repression.”
At best, the president’s representatives that the CNTE leaders talked to promised to take the issue back to the Interior Secretariat and establish a means of communications with the CNTE. Nevertheless, Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong has made it clear that the Interior Secretariat has nothing to talk about with the teachers.
The question that remains open is how far they will be allowed to go. In Mexico City’s highly contaminated atmosphere — politically and otherwise — the citizenry is demanding precisely what the CNTE union chapters claim they don’t want: repression.
The general opinion is that CNTE has unleashed its fury against the government on the people of Mexico City and the problem is — as several people I talked to on the issue last week said — that CNTE acts with streets blockades “just because they let them.”
In short, at this moment it seems that the only course of action between the Peña Nieto Administration and CNTE teachers is collision.