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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Most Jailed Teachers Freed after Deadly Clash with Police in Mexico Port City

Most Jailed Teachers Freed after Deadly Clash with Police in Mexico Port City

MEXICO CITY – Authorities have released the vast majority of the more than 100 teachers arrested after clashes with police in the southern Mexican port city of Acapulco, an incident that left one protester dead, union officials said Wednesday.

A member of the State Coordinator of Education Workers of Guerrero, or CETEG, told Radio Formula that 65-year-old retired teacher Claudio Castillo Peña died as a result of Tuesday night’s crackdown on the protest.

“He lost his life at 4:00 a.m. (Wednesday) due to the blows he received,” said Manuel Salvador Rosas, who added that Castillo Peña was one of the detained protesters who were taken to hospitals in Acapulco, a Pacific port located in the southern state of Guerrero.

The deputy secretary of the Guerrero emergency management office, Raul Miliani, confirmed the death of the retired teacher to Radio Formula, saying his office took him by ambulance to a hospital for treatment for head trauma.

Vidulfo Rosales, the attorney for the relatives of 43 teacher trainees who disappeared nearly five months ago in Iguala, Guerrero, after coming under attack by police, told Efe that 99 of the 106 teachers jailed after the clashes have been released.

“We’re aware that 99 have been released, which would leave seven (still in custody),” said Rosales, who accused the police of using “irrational and excessive” force.

“There was no need to kill a person. They already had the situation under control,” he added.

After CETEG members blocked the road to the Acapulco airport for several hours and engaged in a fruitless dialogue with the authorities, a bus was driven into a line of federal police who were barring access to the air facility.

CETEG accepts no responsibility for “that truck that rammed into not only the Federal Police grenadiers but also teachers” who had formed a human wall to “avoid provocations,” Rosas said.

The riot police responded by using clubs and tear gas against the protesters, who fought back with sticks, pipes and rocks.

At least seven police and five teachers were injured in the clashes, Mexico’s Government Secretariat said in a statement Tuesday night, adding that arrests were made but not giving the precise number.

Guerrero Gov. Rogelio Ortega said the teachers “crossed the line” and that police were “tolerant to the extreme” in clearing the entrance to the airport.

The teachers began the protest at around 11:00 a.m. Tuesday to press demands for unpaid wages; they were dispersed by Federal Police around eight-and-a-half hours later.

CETEG has carried out numerous pretests, some of them violent, against a 2013 education overhaul.

The union also has joined protests over the case of the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School, a teacher’s college, who went missing last September in Iguala.

Federal authorities say corrupt local cops handed those teacher trainees over to drug-cartel enforcers who killed them and burned their bodies at a dump.

Another teachers union, the CNTE, which represents a third of Mexico’s public school educators, has mounted numerous protests against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s 2013 education initiative, which subjects teachers to a comprehensive regime of evaluation.

That union says it does not object in principle to teacher evaluation, only to the “punitive” scheme devised by the government, seen by the CNTE as setting the stage for massive layoffs.

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