Chiapas government and teachers exchange hostages
Teachers confront Federal Police outside the Hotel Safari, in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. The photo shows 3 of the hostages (with heads covered) displayed at their central plaza occupation, as well as “material for repression.” Photo: Victor Camacho
By: Elio Henríquez, Correspondent
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas
The state government liberated three teachers, two normalistas and a father who were detained on Tuesday, during the confrontation between police and members of Sections 7 and 40 of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE, its initials in Spanish), when they tried to boycott the application of the teacher evaluation.
The liberation occurred at 6 PM yesterday, after a meeting between federal and state functionaries with the leadership of the Chiapas teachers, in which the teachers agreed to deliver a federal agent, two policewomen and two “informants” retained Wednesday afternoon.
The teachers retained these five persons after a confrontation that occurred at midday with federal police in front of the hotels in which the police were lodged. Yesterday, the federal police were guarding the teachers that went to the exam at the National School for Civil Protection, located in the municipality of Ocozocoautla.
The activities of the teachers who are opposed to the education evaluation began at 10 AM in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, with a march to demand the liberation of the six detained Tuesday for participating in the boycott of the teachers’ exam. At the front of the contingent they carried a casket, “as part of the honors” to Professor David Gemayel Ruiz Estudillo, who died during the confrontation in Ocozocoautla. According to the organizers, more than 50,000 participated.
Manuel de Jesús Mendoza Vázquez, alternate secretary general of Section 7 of the SNTE, pointed out that the demonstration was going “calmly towards the principal park when on one of the streets of Central Avenue the federal police came out of their hotels with shields and clubs in an act of provocation, because there was no need for that because the march was peaceful.”
He reiterated that the police agents “started to verbally attack the compañeros and when they responded, threw tear gas at them. The people defended themselves and obliged them to go inside their hotels, which permitted taking away from them an impressive quantity of material for repression: boxes full of projectiles, tear gas bombs, bulletproof vests, helmets and other things that were placed in view of the media in the park, where a massive occupation has been installed since last Monday.”
He pointed out that in the battle the teachers retained a federal police agent, who was also taken to the central plaza, in front of the government palace, at the time that they damaged several buses transporting the agents.
Afterwards, he added, the teachers retained two state policewomen and two “informants,” which obliged authorities to continue the negotiations that started Tuesday night.
As a result of the dialogue, the government liberated the three teachers, two normalistas and a father around 6 PM and the teachers delivered the 5 they retained yesterday to authorities.
Mendoza Vázquez commented that they did not bring the cadaver of Ruiz Estudillo to the march. Ruiz Estudillo was a primary school teacher, 29 years old, belonging to Section 40, who was working in Ocozocoautla, although he was a native of Villaflores. “The casket was carried as a political act.”
He explained that the Tuesday protest “was a peaceful act for boycotting the evaluation, but in the face of the fascist regime’s repression we looked for the means to defend ourselves and in the battle, in the advance of the two rhinoceros (an armoured unit of Federal Police) that they used to dissuade the education workers, Compañero” Ruiz Estudillo fell.
He maintained that the police “not only used tear gases and rubber bullets, but also real bullets, which can be demonstrated because we have a compañero injured in the leg with a projectile.” He affirmed that: “the federal government attempted to surprise us on Tuesday by advancing the evaluation programmed for the 12th and 13th, and because of that they created a bunker in the School of Civil Protection, where a disproportionate number of police and Army soldiers were concentrated.”
The conflict ended, affirms the state government
Last night, the Chiapas government reported in a comunicado that after several hours of dialogue with members of the National Coordinator of Education Workers it achieved in cooling down the teachers conflict, with which the teachers ended the occupation that they were maintaining in the centre of Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
The Secretary General of Government, Juan Carlos Gómez Aranda, reiterated the state administration’s will to channel the demands of Chiapas teachers and that they can be attended to by the corresponding instances, in such a way that the quality of education in the state is strengthened.
He explained that the detainees were released under reserve, in terms of article 140 of the National Code of Criminal Procedure.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Published with English translation by Compamanuel.com
Thursday, December 10, 2015