During the May 15 “Teacher Day” celebrations last Sunday, there were two different but joint demonstrations, one organized by the disgruntled and striking students of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) and the other by the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union.
The IPN students marched to the presidential residence of Los Pinos, where they delivered a set of petitions to President Enrique Peña Nieto. The petitions were sent intact to the secretary of Education, Aurelio Nuño, who immediately responded, saying that the Education Secretariat was respectful of the students but demanded they immediately return to classes in order to “save the semester.”
A good percentage of the students have returned to classes, though there is a hard-core minority that insists on being repressed by the Education Secretariat.
The case is not the same with the CNTE union.
Immediately after their demonstration for the Interior Secretariat Sunday, a group of about 3,000 CNTE teachers began building their “tent city” on Bucareli Street in Mexico City, as an “indefinitely” long protest blocking Bucareli from Morelos to Tolsá, automatically causing what they knew well they would wreak havoc on Mexico City traffic.
CNTE leader Rubén Nuñez said Tuesday that the different state teacher unions making up the CNTE decided to take this course of action after “seven months of fruitless talks” with the state and federal governments in which authorities “have closed themselves off to looking after the central demands of the Coordinator.”
The bad news for Nuñez and his contingent on Bucareli Street is that Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong openly said Monday night that he will not establish negotiations with CNTE leaders over the Education Reform now in place.
“There is no dialogue over any educational reform because this reform is aiding the nation, youths and children as well as teachers. So, there is nothing to talk about.”
What Nuñez and CNTE leaders demand is to “repeal the Education Reform” which Nuñez assured is designed to “punish, repress and fire fellow teachers” who refuse to accept it.
For years now CNTE has protested against the Education Reform proposed by President Peña Nieto and approved by majority in Congress.
Yet, Nuñez claims the teachers hold their ground in protest until “the government officials show their faces.”
What is clear now is that the administration is refusing to even set up dialogue conferences to pacify the now forever angered and now frustrated teachers.
The groups now staging their “sit on the street” are from the state of Guerrero and from sections 7 and 18 of the CNTE union.
As a sanitary prevention the Mexico City government has made a row of “Johns” available as well as supplied the teachers with drinking water.
And as usual, the row of affected and beleaguered businessmen along the three blockaded Bucareli Street blocks are weeping their losses as “tent city” prevents traffic from moving. And in fact, who wants to go to once fashionable Bucareli Street? Nobody.
As a side note, Bucareli Street is not only abode to the Interior Secretariat, but for main communications companies. Major newspapers Excelsior, El Universal and Milenio have their offices in the neighborhood. And the central offices of the nation’s largest TV network, Televisa, are in the area.
No doubt the teachers know what they are doing: getting attention from the press but also choking the main north-south thoroughfare.
But what is clear is that not at the Interior Secretariat, nor at the Public Education Secretariat, is there a willingness to deal with the CNTE leaders whose only tactic left is to choke up the people of Mexico City, who have little or nothing to do with this ordeal.