President Enrique Peña Nieto is slated to return Monday, Aug. 8, from his summer vacation. Everything would be peachy had it not been for that in the two weeks he was away from the office, all mayhem broke out. He now returns to sort out the trouble.
Of course, the main problem is the veritable rebellion the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union who has made his tenure in office a veritable punching bag.
The CNTE rebellion, it must be made very clear, is not a “national problem.” It is an intra-murals government disagreement over an education program President Peña Nieto sent to Congress back in 2013, which has been repelled by a limited group of teachers — all of them federal government employees — who want to cook their own cake.
When the so-called Education Reform was legislated, rebellion broke out as the protesting teachers saw it not as an education reform but a labor-repression move by Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
At the time, the CNTE shut down both the Senate and the Chambers of Deputies forcing the legislators to move to different venues to discuss and approve the Education Reform.
At the same time — and this sent shivers down the spines of the unionist teachers — Peña Nieto sent then top National Education Workers Union (SNTE) leader Elba Esther Gordillo to the slammer on easily provable charges of corruption and money laundering with union fees. She’s still there.
With the jailing of Ms. Gordillo, the president disarmed the minor SNTE leaders who soon fell in line and marched to the tune of the drum.
But not the CNTE unionists, who ever since — it’s been four years now — began their movement, which they have unsuccessfully tried to turn into a social movement. It remains a union intra-murals squabble with their boss, the federal government, and for the most part Mexican society remains aloof and apart from this now veritable brawl.
While the 1.5 million member SNTE union has been relatively quiet and abiding by the new mandate of the Education Reform, the approximately 200,000 members of CNTE located mostly in Mexico City and the southern states of Michoacán, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas have made this territory their own by wrecking financial woes on the entire civilian population, which tells the “no more,” plea has fallen on deaf ears.
So upon returning from vacation, President Peña Nieto first has to address the latest fissure wrought by his Education Reform. This is a suit several national business organizations filed against him for not using the authority vested upon him to quench — via force, now deemed necessary by business leaders — the unruliness of the CNTE unionist and affiliated leftist guerrilla organizations.
These two different fronts make for the president a distasteful cocktail, as eternally confrontational groups have again been brought together by the president’s own version of what an “education reform” should be.
The straw the broke the camel’s back two weeks ago was the taking of the railroad track managed by Kansas City Southern Mexico (KCSM), which not only feeds the central Mexico auto assembly plants, but has become the main transporter of loaded containers from Port Lázaro Cárdenas to the eastern board of the United States.
In order to show their “tactical evolution,” the teachers are no longer staging large demonstrations the way they do in Mexico City, but they have broken up into small groups of about 20 people who stage road blockades in the states that claim to have everything “under control.”
In blockading the KCSM railroad track, they staged 17 different blockades in many municipalities in the state of Michoacán. An obvious guerrilla-type tactic, when threatened by the use of public force, can easily dissolve to reappear elsewhere, creating a never-ending and authority-weakening-process.
So upon returning, the first task at hand for President Peña Nieto is to settle this intra-murals government brawl.
By now his top man in politics Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong has tried not just his best, but every peaceful tool at hand to pacify the CNTE teachers to no avail. This has worn down Osorio Chong’s competence, a bad sign because he’s no doubt the president’s best man at hand.
By now, and with the reaction from businessmen last week, President Peña Nieto has no other option than to step into the ring and grab this bull by the horns.
He created this problem; he now must solve it by himself.