Mexican teachers attack political party offices

Striking teachers attack offices of major political parties in southern Mexico state

Associated Press
Mexican teachers attack political party offices
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Protesting against President Pena Nieto's education reform project, a teacher burns a photograph of the Mexican leader outside a Secretary of Education office after they attacked the building, in Chilpancingo, Mexico, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Thousands of elementary and high-school teachers in Guerrero, one of the country's poorest and worst-educated states, walked off their jobs more than a month ago, turning away hundreds of thousands of children from their classrooms and since launched an increasingly disruptive string of protests. (AP Photo/Alejandrino Gonzalez)

ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) -- Striking teachers in Mexico's Guerrero state attacked the offices of four political parties and a building of the state's education department Wednesday after the legislature approved an education reform without meeting their demands.

Dozens of teachers carrying sticks and stones smashed windows, spray-painted insults at President Enrique Pena Nieto on walls and destroyed computers and furniture. They set fire to the state headquarters of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party and another building.

No injuries were reported as the teachers, some masked, ran wild after a protest march in the state capital of Chilpancingo.

Minervino Moran, a spokesman for the strikers, said the attacks were in response to the approval by Guerrero's legislators of legislation similar to a recently adopted federal education law that requires teachers to be evaluated and that seeks to remove control over hiring and firing from the teachers' union.

"We as leaders and as a movement endorse these actions because there is a lot of anger, a lot of outrage with the decision the (state) congress made," said Moran, a spokesman for Guerrero state's Education Workers Union.

The 20,000-member group went on strike in Guerrero state, where the resort city of Acapulco is located, shortly after Pena Nieto signed into law the sweeping education reform two months ago. Its members have since staged increasingly disruptive protests, including blocking the main highway connecting Mexico City to Acapulco.

Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre said in a tweet that prosecutors had issued arrest warrants for Moran and another union leader because they were the "masterminds of the acts of vandalism that took place today."

Television footage showed teachers trashing each of the buildings without the intervention of authorities.

Aguirre told Radio Formula that police didn't try to stop the attacks because officers were busy guarding the government palace and legislature building.

The national education law was seen as Pena Nieto's first major legislative victory after taking office Dec. 1. The constitutional amendment eliminates Mexico's decades-old practice of allowing the buying and selling of teaching jobs, and replaces it with a standardized national teaching test.

That's heresy to a radical splinter union of elementary and high school teachers in Guerrero, one of the country's poorest and worst-educated states. The teachers claim the test is a plot to fire them all as a step toward privatizing education, although there is little evidence the government plans that.

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