09/16/11– Members of the National Education Workers Union (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, SNTE) have taken to the streets of Acapulco, Guerrero the past month to demand heightened security and more safety in their schools, as well as to decrease the amount of robberies, extortions, and kidnappings occurring on or related to school campuses. Teachers took action in August after various elementary schools in Acapulco received blankets scribbled with warnings that teachers were to surrender 50% of their monthly pay beginning in the month of October in order to escape harassment from drug cartels and organized crime groups. After this initial incident, fliers were anonymously circulated requesting that the person responsible for overseeing teachers’ salaries was to submit a list indicating salary information and was to highlight those who made the most monthly. Teachers began striking in defiance of these acts and, on August 25, a select number of schools closed down indefinitely, petitioning to all three levels of government to increase safety in schools. The request has still not been fully granted.
By September 15, over 500 schools joined the strike, including more than 3,000 teachers. Guerrero Governor Aguirre has told the public that “I can almost assure you that on Monday [September 19] everyone will be back in their classrooms,” reminding the press that they took measures to install alarm systems in schools and have increased number of federal, state, and municipal security patrolling the city in order to calm teachers’ concerns. Those leading the strike, however, are not convinced. According to Milenio, Abel Casarrubias, a spokesperson for the Section 14 Commission of Delegations for the SNTE, disagreed and told Mileno that “We only met with the general secretary of the government, Humberto Salgado Gómez, but we did not come up with an agreement. He also has promised nothing; we opted for leaving the meeting.”
Since August, teachers have continued to hold periodic strikes and claim that schools will not resume until the government meets the safety demands laid forth. In a press release, the SNTE members have asked for citizen support for their cause because, “like us [teachers], they [citizens] are suffering the consequences of insecurity, which is not an issue only in Acapulco, but throughout the state. What we are experiencing is terrifying. We know that government makes an effort with school alarms and the checkpoints, but it is not enough,” said a delegation representative in Milenio. The protesting has largely occurred in front of the Convention Center in downtown Acapulco.