Mexico teachers clash with police

Thousands march in capital day after bill introducing mandatory teacher evaluations was signed into law.

    Thousands of teachers demonstrated in Mexico City and some scuffled with police keeping them away from President Enrique Pena Nieto's residence, a day after he signed a controversial education reform.

    Anti-riot police fortified the area around the Los Pinos residence on Wednesday to keep protesters at bay, with police saying about 12,000 teachers caused huge traffic jams as they marched across the city. Police fired teargas as clashes erupted around the residence.

    Some 80 officers used their shields to block advancing protesters, raising tensions with both sides pushing one another and coming to blows. Protesters had largely dispersed by the early hours of Thursday.

    A delegation from a dissident teachers' union was allowed to go into the resident but came out disappointed after they were received by low-level officials.

    Striking teachers have camped out in the central Zocalo square for the past three weeks and held several protests that have angered residents frustrated by the traffic jams.

    But the teachers failed to stop Congress from passing the reforms, which he signed into law on Tuesday. 

    The law strips the power of unions over education and requires teachers to undergo mandatory performance evaluations to get jobs and promotions.

    The teachers argue that the national test fails to take into account indigenous students, who learn native languages before Spanish.

    Juan Garcia, a leader of the National Education Workers Coordinator (CNTE) union, said the teachers want "the population to join the struggle" against the reform.

    The union has not indicated whether it would vacate the Zocalo before Mexico's independence day celebration this weekend. City authorities have refrained from using force to remove the teachers.

    The president traditionally delivers the "Cry of Independence" on the night of September 15 from the balcony of the National Palace, facing the Zocalo. A military parade is held at the square the next day.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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