Mexican striking teachers union leaders freed

The ongoing battle over the neoliberal education reforms in Mexican mandated by the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto excited a storm of protest among teachers in Mexico’s southern states.

The mandate demolishes local school and teacher autonomy, and has been greeted with a regional strike, complete with roadblocks and barricades, provoking massive and violent state repression, with ten or more teachers and their allies dead from police bullets, drawing sharp international condemnation.

The action was ignited by members of the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación [CNTE, previously], a union formed 40 years ago in opposition to the government’s pet union.

One step the government took early on during the recent protests was to arrest and jail two of the union’s top leaders.

And now the leaders are going free, at least for the moment.

From teleSUR Engilish:

Two leaders from the National Coordinator of Education Workers, which has been leading efforts to oppose neoliberal education reforms in Mexico, left jail Friday after a judge ordered their release, though the two still face charges.

Francisco Manuel Villalobos Ricardez and Ruben Nuñez immediately went to greet fellow union members who were assembled at a nearby hotel in the City of Oaxaca for a meeting.

“To those who are mobilized, we owe them, more than anyone, this great struggle,” Nuñez told the assembled trade unionists. Nuñez added that there was still work to be done as many others remained behind bars.

The pair were detained two months ago under questionable circumstances, promoting an outcry from the National Coordinator of Education Workers, known as the CNTE.

Villalobos, who serves as head of the CNTE in Oaxaca, was detained on charges of aggravated robbery stemming from the seizure of textbooks by the teachers union in 2015. Meanwhile, Nuñez, secretary-general of the CNTE in Oaxaca, was detained on allegations of money laundering.

Both deny the charges.

After their arrests, leaders from the union said that the government of Enrique Peña Nieto was resorting to repression to silence critics of their education reform.


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