MEXICO CITY—In what many outside Mexico recognize as Common Core symptoms such as teachers being used as scapegoats for the real problems, inadequate budgets and endemic corruption thousands of unionized teachers have blockaded roads and set up a tent city in the Mexican capital’s colossal main square, threatening to remain until the government aborts its plans to revamp the country’s public-schools system. The teachers are protesting education changes that would institute evaluations and reduce the power of unions in hiring educators.
Their actions have delayed a key component of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s education-overhaul plans and presage a bigger standoff in September, when opponents to the government’s broader legislative agenda plan mass protests here.
The chaos is a glimpse of what is likely to be a turbulent period in Mexico, one that could decide the fate of the president’s agenda, which in addition to the education overhaul also includes a contested proposal to open the state’s oil monopoly to private investment, and a tax revamp.
Thousands more disaffected teachers have begun to stream into Mexico City to participate in demonstrations scheduled for Sept. 1 and 8.
In the past two days, thousands of teachers have snarled traffic in this city of 20 million by blocking many of the city’s principal avenues, have surrounded the studios of Mexico’s two main broadcasters and have protested in front of the French, Spanish and U.S. embassies.
Last week, the teachers blockaded Congress, forcing lawmakers to work out of a racetrack on the city’s outskirts, and then vandalized the building, officials said. They destroyed several cars and blocked the main roads to the airport, causing thousands of passengers to miss flights, officials said. They also forced the city’s marathon to reroute.
Heriberto Magariño López, a teacher and union official from Oaxaca, said during a protest. “Until the government knocks down the three educational laws, we are not going anywhere.”