By THE PULSE NEWS MEXICO STAFF
With the railroad blockade by dissident members of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) teachers’ union in the central western state of Michoacán now in its fourth week — and no viable resolution in sight — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has apparently passed the buck on to the National Human Right Commission (CNDH) to sort out the situation.
Speaking during his daily early morning press conference at the National Palace on Friday, Feb. 7, AMLO said that his government “doesn’t want to resort to public force” to resolve the on-again-off-again blockade of teachers demanding back pay, bonuses and other benefits that were suspended late last year.
Instead, López Obrador said, “two days ago, I instructed my legal counsel to present a formal complaint for violations of human rights before the CNDH so that (that organization) could make recommendations as to what should be done.”
The Michoacán chapter of the 1.4-million-member CNTE began its protest on Jan. 14, blocking the crucial railroad tracks that link the state capital of Morelia with the port city of Lázaro Cardenas, the main exit and entry point for goods.
To appease the teachers, the federal government, through the Public Education Secretariat (SEP), which is responsible for education funding nationwide, sent the Michoacán state government 200 million pesos at the start of February, and the head of the teacher’s union leaders agreed to end the blockade.
But not all CNTE members are on the same page politically, and two of the union’s more radical factions — the National Front for Socialism (FNLS) and the National Democratic Executive Committee (CEND) — decided to hold out for more money and keep occupying the tracks.
Meanwhile, the state’s economy, which in recent years has shifted dramatically from an agriculture-based production to a heavy manufacturing hub, has been stagnated by the buildup of more than 3 million tons of unmoved cargo, including perishables.
According to Michoacán sources, the blockade Is costing the state at least 1 billion pesos a day, and Michoacán Governor Silvano Aureoles Conejo (who is not a member of AMLO’s majority National Regeneration Movement, or Morena) has blamed the federal government for the mounting crisis.
In his press conference Friday, AMLO said that one of the problems in resolving the situation is that there does not seem to be a clear line of leadership within the CNTE in Michoacán, noting that the union would have to determine whether the dissident groups are representatives of its interests.
In response to the president’s comments, the Michoacán branch of the CNTE issued a statement later in the day saying that its railroad blockade was officially over and any groups still barricading tracks did not represent their organization.
Notwithstanding, the railroad tracks linking Morelia to Lázaro Cárdenas were still blocked as of late Friday night.