Teachers Strike Outside National Palace over Salary Shortfalls
By KELIN DILLON
Just one day after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) announced an 8.2 percent salary hike for teachers across Mexico, disgruntled members of Section 22 of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) – one of Mexico’s primary teachers’ unions – amplified protests outside Mexico City’s National Palace on Tuesday, May 16, with additional demands to improve the nation’s education system and further increase teachers’ salaries.
The teachers, many of whom reportedly spent the night in the Zócalo after setting up tents and temporary housing structures Monday afternoon, also known as World Teacher’s Day, purportedly rose just before 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning to continue their protests.
The Oaxacan teaching professionals were then reported to have removed the metal security gates posted outside the National Palace and began protesting directly in front of the building’s primary entrances with cries to “open the door.”
The Mexico City police subsequently formed a human fence in front of the National Palace doors in an attempt to prevent the protesters from entering the federal executive’s headquarters, while the Section 22 teachers continued demands to deliver their petition to López Obrador himself.
According to the CNTE petition, AMLO’s proposed 8.3 percent salary hike for teachers should not even be considered a raise, pointing out that the minimum wage across the republic has increased 150 percent during López Obrador’s six-year term while the teachers’ corresponding raise remains below Mexico’s inflation rate.
“The president said that we will receive an 8.3 percent increase in teacher salaries,” said CNTE Section 9 leader Pedro Hernández. “We categorically say that this is a lie, because the salary increase is surpassed by inflation, which is at 10 percent, due to the loss of purchasing power, which has been more than 40 percent in this six-year term.”
Among the teachers’ 12-point plan of demands are a 100 percent salary increase, improved medical services, reviews of the pension system, the preservation of the Directorate of Indigenous Education and the repeal of the 2019 education reform, among others.
Meanwhile, more protesting teaching professionals began setting up tents around the capital square, while the Mexico City Secretariat of Security installed additional protection elements such as metal fences and supplementary riot police to combat the rising number of protesters in the Zócalo.