By JESSICA GUERRERO
MORELIA, Michoacán — A few days into the recently initiated school year in Mexico, teachers ascribed to Section 18 of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union in the central western state of Michoacan are alleging serious irregularities and debts in their members’ salary payments over the last month.
According to the union group, the administration of Michoacán Governor Silvano Aureoles Conejo has failed to complete salary payments of more than 28,000 teachers in the state corresponding to their two biweekly salary installments for the month of August. The CNTE said the state government owes an approximate total of 3.6 billion pesos.
In response to this situation, the CNTE teachers have not hesitated to display their anger, as seen in numerous railroad blockades throughout the state of Michoacán, as well as the seizure and obstruction of various toll booths located across federal highways in the state.
The economic impact of these demonstrations has been a major concern for Mexico’s industrial sectors, which depend on the region’s transportation arteries to distribute goods and receive raw materials.
The daily economic effects of these are quantifiable in at least 50 million pesos, according to data from the Association of Industrialists of the State of Michoacán (AIEMAC).
Some of the affected industrialists have said that they have been unable to transport their merchandise and products for months. They also report shortages in the supply of crucial raw materials from the port of Lazaro Cardenas.
The persistent blockade of the state railways, initiated a month ago in the Caltzontzin community in Uruapan, has led to estimated losses of at least 1.6 billion pesos.
Kansas City Southern de México (KCSM), the company that operates these railways tracks in the state, reported that to date, eight freight trains have been stranded in the state with commercial goods and products destined for central and northern Mexico, with an estimated value of 36 billion pesos.
Additionally, the CNTE teachers in Michoacán have decided to postpone the start of the school year in the state until the teachers affected by the salary backlogs receive their payments.
Consequently, at least half of the state’s public elementary and secondary schools (of the 12,000 that exist in the state) did not start the school year this month as mandated by the federal government.
Beyond the disruption of public institutions and transportation lines, both local and federal authorities have been slow to seek a resolution of the conflict.
Tensions came to a head earlier this month when Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) was detained by a group CNTE fellow teachers in the southern state of Chiapas, who blocked his transit throughout the state at least three different times and preventing him from arriving to his daily morning conference.
The highly publicized episodes between AMLO and the CNTE teachers were surprising to many, since the teachers’ group had traditionally supported the leftist president.