Thousands of teachers march down the Reforma to the Zocalo in Mexico City on Saturday.
Government violence against protesting teachers broke out this weekend in the southern state of Oaxaca.
Oaxaca, located on Mexico’s Pacific coast, has long been a center of teacher militancy.
Six people were killed and 53 injured in Mexico on Sunday when clashes broke out between members of a teachers’ trade union and police at a protest that police say had been infiltrated by armed individuals who shot at officers and threw petrol bombs.
The violence erupted as anti-riot police moved in to dislodge protesters blocking a highway in the southern state of Oaxaca. Television footage showed chaotic scenes of men running from police as gun fire rang out.
It was the worst incident in a spate of protests over the past several months against education reforms that the government pushed through three years ago.
The protests in Oaxaca are part of a national protest by members of the CNTE, the teachers union. They are aimed at so-called evaluation reforms instituted by the corrupt government of President Nieto.
Hundreds of academic, religious, popular, student, human and social rights organizations around the world signed a document Friday that condemns the “brutal repression” exerted by the Mexican government against teachers who reject the education reform by President Enrique Peña Nieto.
The letter was read Friday during a mass protest in Mexico City in which more than 14,000 people took part to demand the president and his education minister negotiate the reform, demanding the release of leaders who were arrested last week and currently face what they consider “wrongful convictions.”
“We think that the authorities must commit to dialogue, recognizing the just demands of the teachers’ movement, and not to force to solve this and any other conflict, especially in a country marked by violence and impunity,” the letter states.
Coming from the southern states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero, all three of which are victims of widespread violence and impunity, the teachers belong to the CNTE union and Section 22 of the Mexican National Educational Workers Union (SNTE). They have been conducting a series of strikes since May, demanding talks with Pesident Nieto and his Minister of Education Aurelio Nuño.
Nieto’s teacher evaluation reforms are seen as an attempt to destroy the teachers union.