The political week in Mexico will start Monday with the second gathering between Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong and members of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union, current leaders which fervently oppose President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Education Reform.
Secretary Osorio Chong had stated several times he will no longer meet with CNTE, either to discuss the political or educational aspects of the Education Reform. Yet the many related events last week changed the scenario, totally forcing the government to open up and talk to those who were recently called “these dudes,” namely the rebellious teachers.
There was a meeting last Friday between these two parties in which the CNTE teachers presented their petitions to Secretary Osorio Chong.
What’s worrisome for Mexico is that the rebellion is growing, and as of last week, a new protest front opened up. Though it had long been simmering, a movement of government doctors and nurses took to the streets and joined the rebellious CNTE union teachers. There were protests in 19 of the 32 Mexican United States in a movement that seems to be growing. Though it still remains somewhat regional, it is a sign that there is a bureaucratic rebellion already in action. Also joining the fray against the administration is the body of professors from the Mexico City Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM).
In the midst of these protests the attitude of Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño has been one of a continued hardline with a tough stance against the CNTE rebels.
Secretary Nuño filed a suit last January against CNTE Oaxaca Section 22 of union leaders Rubén Núñez Ginés and Aciel Sibaja Mendoza, general secretary and treasurer of Section 22, who are still jailed in a top security prison in Sonora. Oddly enough, they have both been released on bail, but another judge in Oaxaca is accusing them of being common thievesThe judge’s verdict is still pending, keeping the two in the slammer.
Until recently, the government has had an upper hand on the abuses by the CNTE union blockading streets in several cities — Mexico City in particular, being their main patsy. After Sunday June 19 in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca, a violent encounter among alleged guerrilla groups infiltrated among CNTE teachers and the federal police left — at last tally — nine people dead. Curiously, none of the victims were teachers, or federal policemen; they were all townspeople.
The Nochixtlán “repression” — or whatever it was as it is not clear yet what happened nor who started the shootings — has hit an international stature as the Athens, Greece, based World Unions Federation condemned the “criminal repression” of the Peña Nieto administration against the CNTE angels.
In all this, Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño has somewhat toned down his tough stance and no longer calls the rebel teachers “criminals.” In the meantime Interior Secretary Osorio Chong is looking for a political way out to the quagmire created by CNTE, who now, as the government has toned down, have strengthened their all-or-nothing stance.
In reality, the tone of this feud between the federal government and now several of its employee unions has sent an alarm to the entrepreneurial community, particularly the Business Coordinator Council, (CCE) as the city and state of Oaxaca have entered a severe financial crisis, and the road blockades the unionists are imposing against the civilian population have caused commodity shortages.
CCE demands that the state government apply the law, that the teachers’ blockades have caused a $2.7 billion pesos loss in business, that violent disturbances are being caused by guerrilla warfare oriented groups and asks the state and federal governments not to use violence in confronting the protesters.
Before the Nochixtlán tragedy both the Peña Nieto administration and the CNTE have called their shots and dialogue was all but hushed. Now the administration has loosened its political stance and is at least willing to listen, again, to the same old complaints the CNTE has made for the past three years.
Today at 6 p.m. the second meeting between Interior Secretary Osorio Chong will take place. There is some hope that there might be “dialogue” (whatever that means to the CNTE monologue) and “results.”
Frankly, there are people who have no expectations given the radical stances on both sides of the negotiating table.
Will there be no ensuing violence in non-agreement? I would not make a prediction!