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Striking teachers snarl Mexico City traffic again

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Thousands of striking teachers strangled traffic in Mexico City on Wednesday, again causing chaos in the megalopolis to challenge one of President Enrique Pena Nieto's signature reforms.

Some 3,000 teachers marched from the capital's historic Zocalo square, where 10,000 have camped out since last week, to the presidential residence to demand that the government abandon its overhaul of the education system.

Their plans to hold more protests forced the postponement of two Mexican soccer league games this coming weekend.

In the past week, the teachers prompted the city to reroute Sunday's marathon, made travelers miss planes by blocking access to the airport and blockaded the Congress, forcing lawmakers to meet in a convention center.

But Pena Nieto, who was in the northern state of Nuevo Leon on Wednesday, vowed to press ahead with the education revamp, one of his major reform plans along with changes to the energy sector and tax system.

"We will not give up in this effort. We will not give in," Pena Nieto, who took office in December, said during an event celebrating Senior Citizen Day.

"We are moving firmly and decidedly to enact education reforms that ensure quality education for all Mexicans, for the children and youth of our country," he said.

Pena Nieto pushed through Congress changes to the constitution in December in order to put education, which was in the hands of powerful unions, back under government control and require teachers to undergo mandatory performance exams.

Lawmakers are now debating legislation that would implement the new laws, which have prompted protests and strikes in the southern states of Michoacan, Guerrero and Oaxaca in recent months.

The teachers say the reform hides an agenda to privatize education and that the evaluations fail to take into account other factors, like the fact that many teach in indigenous and rural areas.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130828/striking-teachers-snarl-mexico-city-traffic-again