MORELIA, Mexico – Members of the militant CNTE teachers’ union have ended their week-long blockade of the freight rail network in the western Mexican state of Michoacan.
The educators ended their shutdown of the rail network operated by Kansas City Southern de Mexico on Wednesday after resuming talks with the Government Secretariat the day before, the state government confirmed.
Teachers on Tuesday night began removing the boulders, tree-trunks and even vehicles they had used to block tracks in the municipalities of Morelia, Lazaro Cardenas, Maravatio, Yurecuaro, Nueva Italia and Patzcuaro.
The Federal Police, however, had to intervene to clear a seventh blockade in the Purepecha Indian town of Caltzontzin, where Indians and a group of teachers disobeyed an order from the CNTE’s state leadership.
That institution said in a bulletin that the rail line was cleared in that town at around 9:30 a.m. local time Wednesday after several hours of negotiations.
The CNTE’s blockades left at least 200 trains carrying imported products – including thousands of containers with late-model cars, farm products and steel – stranded at the Pacific port of Lazaro Cardenas.
Business chambers in Michoacan and around the country sent a missive to the federal government Wednesday demanding it prevent the CNTE from carrying out new blockades of the rail network and federal roads and highways and other protest actions that have already caused millions of dollars in losses.
Teachers affiliated with the CNTE, which has more than 200,000 members in Mexico, have been on strike since mid-May to demand the repeal of a 2013 education overhaul that includes regular evaluations of teachers and ends longstanding union privileges.
The union, which is strongest in Oaxaca, Michoacan, Chiapas and Guerrero, Mexico’s poorest states, says the evaluations are punitive because they fail to take into account that schools in rural areas often lack electricity and even textbooks.