Teachers union, police clash in Mexico over education reforms; 6 dead

MEXICO CITY, June 20 (UPI) — At least six people died on Sunday in Mexico’s Oaxaca state during clashes between police and a teachers union that is protesting education reforms.

The National Coordinator of Education Workers union, social organizations and local residents held protests and disrupted traffic on a major highway connecting Oaxaca to Mexico City for about a week. Violence erupted Sunday when riot police attempted to disperse the crowd.

Oaxaca’s secretary of public safety said 21 people were arrested, and those injured included 41 federal police officers, 14 state police officers and 53 civilians.

“Blockages affected the supply of food, medicines, fuel and basic goods” and impacted the state’s economic activity, the Oaxaca state government said in a statement.

The union has continued battling constitutional reforms passed by Mexico’s Ministry of Education that would force teachers to take examinations to be approved for employment, with further tests to maintain jobs.

“Today Oaxaca is mired in a deep crisis of government violence, as a result of the imposition of structural reforms dictated from abroad where the priority of the Mexican State is an end not only to natural resources, labor rights and public services but also today against those who raise their voices and protest,” the teachers union Oaxaca chapter said in a statement on Sunday.

The government’s performance assessments for the 2015-16 school year will evaluate nearly 300,000 primary education teachers and about 55,000 higher education teachers. Teachers with outstanding results may be eligible to benefit from new stimulus incentives.

“Radical groups and social organizations adherent to teachers escalated their protests, affecting the public peace, economic dynamics and social order,” Oaxaca Gov. Gabino CuĂ© said in a statement.

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