Friday, February 18, 2011

Mexican Cops Fire on Striking Teachers in Oaxaca

Oaxacan teachers protesting a visit by President Felipe Calderon were attacked by riot police near the Zocolo on Tuesday. The cops fired tear gas and live ammunition at the teachers. The battle lasted for seven hours and left more than 20 people seriously injured. Teachers were protesting Calderon’s signing of legislation that allows the wealthy to deduct the costs of their children’s private school from their income taxes, money that would otherwise go toward public education for all children.

During the protests, federal police fired tear gas canisters at point-blank range and opened fire with live ammunition from a distance of only 20 feet. Snipers also shot at teachers from rooftops. One teacher, Raymundo Servando Santiago Sanchez was hospitalized after being struck in the chest with a tear gas canister. Another teacher, Marcelino Coache suffered a fractured skull. The federal police purchase much of its equipment through aid from the U.S. under the Merida Initiative.

Teachers from 13,500 schools across the state of Oaxaca refused to work Wednesday, marched through Oaxaca town, and blockaded highways. They also called for the resignation of the state government’s secretary general, Irma Pineyro, and the director general of the State Institute of Public Education, Bernado Vazquez Colmenares.

Oaxaca was racked with police and vigilante and police violence against striking teachers in 2006. Teachers erected barricades throughout the city during the protests. More than 16 people were killed in the conflict, including an American journalist.

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