A second hours-long meeting between striking Mexican teachers and the government in Mexico City wrapped up in the early hours of Tuesday morning as authorities called on unions to end the blockades in the southern state of Oaxaca, the Mexican news agency Notimex reported.
Officials from the government of Enrique Peña Nieto insist that for talks to continue, protests against neoliberal education reforms – which have been met with a repressive crackdown – must end.
After a marathon meeting of nearly seven hours, leaders of the CNTE union and Interior Minister Osorio Chong managed to reach a consensus that in the immediate term the dialogue process will focus on ensuring justice for Nochixtlan, where a violent police crackdown on teacher protests beginning June 19 left at least 9 people dead in the town of 15,000.
Teachers agreed to postpone their demands for a reversal of neoliberal education reforms in the name of addressing the common goal, La Jornada reported.
Otherwise, both sides have remained firm in their positions. Teachers have expressed three key demands, which are for the neoliberal education changes — including mass layoffs — to be overturned, for a new and more participative education model and for reparations for damages.
On the other hand, Chong reiterated after the meeting that the demand for education reform is not one that can be met in the talks, arguing that it is a constitutional matter. The minister said that the talks had achieved progress insofar as both sides agreed to “work to create the conditions” to solve the problems at hand.
The meeting followed a first session between the CNTE and government officials last week that came amid high-running tensions in the immediate aftermath of the deadly violence in Nochixtlan and accusations from detained teachers that police had threatened them with forced disappearance. With no agreements in sight after the first lengthy meeting, union leaders vowed to keep protesting until their demands are met.
The meetings mark a breakthrough after CNTE has called for dialogue over education issues for months.
Meanwhile, solidarity protests have erupted in Mexico City, Chicago, and other cities, while families of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students have also stood up in support of the Oaxaca teachers and slammed the government for harsh repression. Teachers in Oaxaca and Chiapas are set to continue roadblocks on Tuesday.
CNTE is a national teachers union with 200,000 members across the country, but with the strongest presence in some of the poorest states including Oaxaca, Michoacan, Chiapas, and Guerrero.