Mexican Police use excessive force against teacher protests

Expression

Violence against journalists proves to be an ever-growing threat in parts of Mexico, after two journalists in Oaxaca and one in Tamaulipas were killed during the final week of June. ARTICLE 19, documented 16 attacks against press in the state of Oaxaca and Mexico City from 17th to 21st June. This included at least one murder of a journalist and four attempted murders. In addition, 10 photojournalists were attacked. Security agents were identified as being responsible for 11 of the 16 documented cases. On 26th June, Salvador Olmos García, a 31-year-old community radio host, died in hospital after being run over by police who were trying to apprehend him for painting graffiti on a monument in town.

Peaceful Assembly

There have been a series of protests across Mexico in response to the government's privatisation policies, including a nation-wide strike of teachers called by the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union. Two of the leaders of the CNTE were arrested, and in response teachers blocked one of the major highways that connects Mexico City to Oaxaca City. The situation turned violent on 19th June, when Mexican federal police opened fire during a confrontation in the southern state of Oaxaca. The violence left at least 10 dead and over 100 people injured after riot police moved to remove the protestors’ blockades. Initially, the government denied the federal police were carrying weapons, however photographic evidence and a statement from the CNTE revealed this to be untrue. After the government resumed talks with the CNTE, protesters lifted most blockades in the southern state of Chiapas, although they remain in Oaxaca and the capital. Record numbers of people and civil society organisations took part in Mexico City’s Pride Parade on 25th June. The celebration of LGBTI rights attracted as many as 400,000 marchers, with no reports of violence.

Association

Mexican workers’ right to unionise has come under serious threat in recent months due to the rigid enforcement of President Peña Nieto’s neoliberal reforms, including privatisation in the education, health and energy sectors, which would significantly reduce the power of each sector’s unions. These reforms continue to spark national outrage, with teachers leading major protests across the country and doctors threatening to strike in solidarity. On the other hand, the Labour Ministry issued the Collective Bargaining Freedom Protocol, which establishes new uniform procedures and rules for labor-related inspections at the work sites in Mexico. These rules give greater power to unionised workers, who will be able to report whether collective-bargaining agreements (CBAs) are in effect in the workplace. Although Mexican law does not require employers to enter into CBAs with unions, where CBAs do exist they must be published and distributed to unionised employees.