BCTF President Jim Iker has written to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to express deep concern about attacks which took place on February 24, 2015 against demonstrating teachers in Acapulco. This latest violence comes in the wake of the September 26, 2014 disappearance of 43 student teachers in Ayotzinapa, in the same state of Guerrero.
According to the latest news reports, approximately 5,000 teachers took to the streets and blocked access to the Acapulco airport for six hours. They were calling for justice for the 43 student teachers who are presumed murdered, and protesting non-payment of the salaries which they are owed.
More than a thousand local and federal police officers were deployed, and observers were shocked by the violence with which they suppressed the demonstration. Hundreds suffered injuries from police truncheons, including skull fractures, and 106 were arrested. According to CETEG, one of the teachers’ unions in Guerrero, four female teachers were raped by police while in detention.
A 65-year-old retired teacher, Claudio Castillo Peña, died as a result of a severe beating to the head inflicted by federal police. Decades ago Castillo Peña studied at the same normal school as the 43 disappeared students. Because he had suffered polio, he had difficulties walking so he was supporting the rally by driving along in his van and chanting slogans through a megaphone. However, police made him step out of the vehicle, and struck him repeatedly with their batons.
Media reports characterized Castillo Peña as someone who was respected and well-liked within the community. “He believed in actions above words. He fought for just causes, and said that learning shouldn’t be done only within the four walls of a classroom,” reported France 24.
Iker urged the Mexican government to end the repression, to pay the owed salaries to the teachers of Acapulco, to properly investigate the fate of the 43 student teachers, and to ensure the appropriate action is taken against those responsible for the extreme state violence against the education sector.
He also urged the Mexican president to consider the concerns of teachers, students and parents regarding his governments’ education “reforms,” as they have been the source of significant unrest—not only in Guerrero, but across Mexico.