Gunfire killed at least six and injured more than 100 people, including several police officers, in Oaxaca, Mexico, where the teachers’ union is protesting education reforms instituted by the government in 2013 that include stricter teacher evaluations, the BBC reports.
And while the CNTE teachers’ union is upset over the new reforms, put in place by Mexico’s current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, the government says the teachers have siphoned off money that was raised illegally and taken directly out of teachers’ paychecks. Prosecutors have accused the union of corruption and other crimes.
The union says many of those charges are politically motivated, but the teachers in Oaxaca have a long and storied history of engaging in atypically violent protests despite a public education system in the country that is, based on overwhelming evidence, among the worst in the world (report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).
Two union leaders were arrested last week on corruption charges, and in protest, the union is said to have blocked roads leading from Oaxaca state to Mexico City, which may result in the shutting down of an important oil refinery. The gunshots were reportedly fired by people not associated with the protest and at both sides—the teachers and the government police—in attempt to cause chaos.
We call for a dialogue to resolve the underlying issues, and we seek justice for teachers in Oaxaca who are exercising their lawful right to protest in a peaceful manner. According to the teachers, many arrest warrants against them aren’t connected to any actual crime, including charges that certain union officials laundered money and stole textbooks.