Thousands of school teachers in Acapulco, Mexico, have taken part in a series of strikes to condemn the on-going threats of violence, extortion, robbery and kidnapping which they have been subjected to in recent months.
The situation reached new heights in August when criminal gangs sent blankets to primary schools demanding that teachers give up 50 per cent of their salaries or face harassment and violence.
Anonymous leaflets were then sent round telling the state government to release details of teachers’ salaries.
As a result, a number of schools have gone out on strike, and now over 500 have joined the action.
The teachers are demanding that the government guarantee security in schools. However this is complicated by the fact that the police in the state are suspected of being implicated in many of the crimes that take place.
According to the Teachers’ Solidarity website: ’A teacher reiterated that her fellow educators do not trust the municipal and state police forces, which they accuse of collusion with organised crime’.
Citing a personal example, the unidentified teacher said her daughter was kidnapped while leaving the Gran Plaza shopping mall in 2009 and later freed after a ransom was paid. “We were threatened,” she said, “but we can’t remain silent and we have to denounce institutionalised organised crime.”
The teachers staged a march of many thousands in Acapulco on 14 September where they were joined by staff from the University of Guerrero, as well as students and parents.
EI strongly opposes violence and intimidation against education workers and urges the national authorities in Mexico to ensure teachers, as well as students, can go to school in safety.
EI's Declaration on schools as safe sanctuaries spells out steps to prevent violations of fundamental human and trade union rights, and ensure the safety and security of learners and teachers everywhere.
The full declaration can be read here.