Teachers—whose unprecedented strikes and massive, militant protests by the tens of thousands have shaken Mexico over the past week—may be headed for a violent confrontation with the government as they call for a general strike tomorrow.
As the strikes and demonstrations led by the National Coordinating Committee (la CNTE), a rank-and-file caucus within the Mexican Teachers Union (el SNTE), have become more extensive and militant, the government of Enrique Peña Nieto has become more intransigent.
Some fear the government may strike out against the teachers now, others think it will act after Congress passes the president’s agenda. Everyone fears that Mexican history could be about to repeat itself.
It is a history in which the police and army have been used over and over to crush militant unions, peasant organizations, student protesters, and other movements for democracy. But if Peña Nieto decides to use force to put down the teachers’ movement, it will come at great political cost—removing the veneer of democracy from what he has called his “new” Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).