GOING into the offices of the National Co-ordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) in Oaxaca, a city 350km (220 miles) south-east of Mexico’s capital, is like entering a world of rebellious teenagers rather than teachers. Graffiti are scrawled on the walls and posters denounce “state terrorism”. The trade union’s radio station, Radio Plantón (Demonstration Radio), rails against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s education reforms, which it blames on the IMF and other capitalist bogeymen.
In the main square nearby, the CNTE’s Oaxaca chapter, known as Section 22, maintains a campsite occupied by teachers not a bit repentant about abandoning their classrooms for weeks on end. Drivers have adopted a pragmatic response to the teachers’ frequent road blocks: they use a GPS app called, appropriately, S-22 to avoid them. The state government is just as anxious to keep out of the way. It is wary of a repeat of a crisis in 2006, when a teachers’ strike turned into a violent rebellion that shut down parts of the city for months.