Arrest of Union Boss Leads to Week of Clashes, Deaths in Mexico

The arrest of a dissident teachers' union leader spiraled into over a week of fiery clashes and deadly protests with police in Mexico.

Ruben Nunez, leader of the Seccion 22, of the Mexican teacher's National Coordination of Education Workers (CNTE), attends a demonstration in front of Los Pinos, in Mexico City, Mexico, on June 11. According to media reports, Nunez was arrested by Mexican police along with other union leaders on charges of aggravated robbery and money laundering.


The CNTE blocked streets of Oaxaca, Mexico on June 15, where people stripped the police of their shields.

The CNTE, a powerful union group with about 200,000 members across the country, is protesting against mandatory evaluation of teachers incorporated in the educational reform of 2013. Nunez is secretary general of the CNTE's Section 22 in the southern state of Oaxaca, a longstanding hotbed of resistance to government efforts to reform the education system.


Lines of police officers stand in formation during a rally in Mexico City, Mexico, June 17. Members of the CNTE, coming from the Mexican states of Guerrero, Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Michoacan, called for resuming negotiations with authorities. Supporters of Nunez say he is innocent and denounced his arrest by the Mexican government as politically motivated. The union called for demonstrations in Mexico City beginning 14 June, demanding his release.


Protesters from the CNTE teachers' union march against President Enrique Pena Nieto's education reform, along the streets in Mexico City, Mexico June 17.

Edgard Garrido / Reuters
Riot police are forced to fall back as they battle with protesting teachers who were blocking a federal highway in the state of Oaxaca, near the town of Nochixtlan, Mexico, June 19. Luis Alberto Hernandez / AP
A riot police officer walks past a burned truck carrying chickens after clash with protesters from the CNTE teacher's union, in the town of Nochixtlan, northwest of the state capital, Oaxaca City, Mexico June 19. Jorge Luis Plata / Reuters
Riot police officers keep watch next to protesters who were detained after clashing with the police. Jorge Luis Plata / Reuters

A girl embraces the coffin with the body of Yalid Jimenez during a funeral in Nochixtlan, Mexico, June 20. The 29 year old died on June 19 when police cleared the highway blocked by protesters. Eight people died in the confrontations over the weekend.

Eduardo Verdugo / AP
A protester from CNTE holds a torch as he yells during a march following clashes in Mexico City, Mexico, June 20. Edgard Garrido / Reuters
People come to pay their respects to three of the people that died on June 19 during the clearing of the highway, in Nochixtlan's main plaza, in Oaxaca state, Mexico, June 20. Eduardo Verdugo / AP
Aurelio Nuno, Mexico's Minister of Education, reacts during a news conference at the Secretary of Education building, following the clashes, June 21. Edgard Garrido / Reuters
Vehicles pass by a burnt down truckload of chicken that was used as a flaming barricade at the entrance of the village of Nochixtlan, Oaxaca State, Mexico on June 21. Protesters denounced the deaths of eight people after violent weekend clashes that police blamed on unidentified gunmen. Hector Guerrero / AFP - Getty Images
A boy playing soccer in a street runs past a mural of rebel leader Sub Comandante Marcos with the slogan in Spanish "Zapata lives. The struggle continues," in Mexico City, June 22. A group of protesting teachers accompanied by a mediation commission met Wednesday evening with Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong. The negotiations between the striking radical teachers and the government come three days after the fiery clashes that left eight dead and more than 100 injured. Rebecca Blackwell / AP
Adelfo Gomez, representative from the National Coordination of Education Workers (CNTE), enters the Interior Ministry building to attend a meeting between CNTE members and Mexico's government, in Mexico City, Mexico, June 22. Edgard Garrido / Reuters