Mexican teachers protest schools overhaul

Mexico City, Apr 4 (EFE).- Some 8,000 teachers marched through the streets of this capital on Thursday to protest the educational reforms promulgated in February.

Starting very early in the morning, contingents of teachers from all across the country began congregating in Mexico City's giant Zocalo plaza to begin the march that ended up at the interior ministry.

The demonstration, called by the CNTE teachers organization, was aimed at expressing to the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto the teachers' objection to an overhaul the education workers say harms their rights and lacks social consensus.

The initiative, one of the most significant that Peña Nieto has pushed since he took office Dec. 1, puts an end to old customs such as the union prerogative of placing its members in vacant positions.

It also establishes a system of obligatory evaluation for teachers.

In remarks to Efe, the leader of the union chapter from Michoacan state, Juan Jose Ortega, said that they are demanding that the reform be overturned and a national consultation held to develop a new initiative that guarantees the teachers' labor rights.

The CNTE leader in the southern state of Guerrero, Gonzalo Juarez Ocampo, told MVS radio that teachers are in favor of an evaluation, but he added that this "must be comprehensive" and take into account the broad differences among the regions of the country.

He defended the need to implement an evaluation of all the processes and actors that "allows the problems to be detected and to seek alternatives. An evaluation that seeks sanctions has no future."

"We see in the government an authoritarian attitude and one of repression," he added, alluding to the presence of more than 2,000 federal police in Guerrero, where a group of teachers on Thursday morning blocked the Autopista del Sol highway connecting the Mexican capital with the Pacific resort city of Acapulco.