Mexico City blocked by demonstrations

By Jade Arroyo, Photos by Angel Miquel

Mexicans protest energy reform

On Sunday, September 8, a major demonstration took place in Mexico City to protest the energy reform promoted by the federal government, which would privatize Pemex (Petróleos Mexicanos).

Thousands of people packed the Historic Center (Juarez Avenue and surrounding streets around Bellas Artes Palace).

This action was mainly promoted by the head of the Morena (National Regeneration Movement) group, Andres Manuel López Obrador, former presidential candidate, who called it a “peaceful citizens’ movement.” López Obrador was expected to deliver the opposition strategy at the Zócalo, but because protesting teachers were encamped there to demonstrate against education reform, he had to change the venue for his demonstration at the last moment, putting up an improvised stage in front of the Alameda Central. He said that the full strategy will be revealed September 22 at a national march, to which some people shouted, “We want it now, we cannot wait any longer!” However, the ex-candidate insisted that the movement would be strengthened further. The supporters came from all over the country; many traveled the entire night to participate.

During a one-hour speech, the director of Morena defined the first measure to take as an action plan to prevent the reform changes in Article 27, which would allow foreign enterprises to invest in the petroleum giant. In his speech, López Obrador said, “It is unacceptable that now, in a shameless way, they are attempting to despoil the nation of the energy sector, to erase the future of the
people and the new generations.” At the meeting there were legislators for the PRD, such as Mario Delgado and Alejandro Encinas; representative from Morena included Manuel Bartlett and Manuel Camacho Solís. The full speech by López Obrador, along with testimonials of the supporters and images of the rally, are available at YouTube.

Education reform also protested

On Friday, September 13, after almost a month of demonstrations and constant roadway blockages in different parts of the city, causing traffic jams and great economic loss to businesses, the federal
government violently evicted the remainder of the teachers who had seized the Zócalo in Mexico City to protest against education reforms.

The majority of the protesting teachers had already left, as they had agreed.

The education reform presented by the government of Enrique Peña Nieto proposes to create a system that trains and evaluates teachers; teachers would get jobs in public schools based on their skills. Up to now, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, SNTE (National Union of Education Workers) has controlled and determined everything about positions and salaries in public education. According to Ermes Medina, a columnist for The website, in the last national testing of teachers 75 percent of them failed.

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