Teachers Stay Out: Say “Still No Security”
(Acapulco, JG 6 September) Public School teachers in 170 schools in the outlying suburbs of Acapulco have continued their job action since August 25, demanding better police protection in the face of threats from street gangs and organized crime. To date, the teachers say, the extra protection they are seeking, and which was promised, has not arrived. “Yes, there has been an increase in surveillance,” they say, “but only at the private schools.”
The Secretary of Education of Guerrero stated that only 52 schools were closed, but the teachers’ union denies that, saying that 3,500 teachers have refused to report to classes, affecting 50,000 students.
“We want the Army and the Navy to be present,” they said in a press conference. Teachers are feeling tense, fearful, and more than anything, suspicious. They want no names and no photographs because “we do not know everyone, and we are afraid of ‘infiltrations.’”
Early in the day a large banner appeared with accusations from crime gangs, in a secondary school in Zapata, further increasing anxieties among the workforce. Banners with the same message allegedly appeared in an administration building and in another junior high in Renacimiento. In Zapata, at school 104, parents are frustrated with the police. They have organized their own surveillance for suspicious persons around the school, trying to clear the area between the building and the Comercial Mexicana, several blocks away, which was burned out by a battle between narco-gangs and law enforcement last April 4. The parents recount frightening experiences with exchanges of gunfire, kidnappings, assaults, and baseless arrests of youths in school uniforms.
There is a five-sided area of Acapulco, called D-1 by the authorities, which is a demarcation of the areas of greatest poverty. School 104 is a reflection of the reality faced by schools in what are called “popular” neighborhoods, described by the press as “forgotten by the authorities, where the urban scene changes drastically to many commercial outlets with no organization whatever, excessively heavy traffic, long stretches of concrete and undergrowth, overflowing with water, dirt and mud, without any illumination, walls 400 feet long stained with black graffiti, and a wrecked, abandoned police patrol car, out of which plants are growing.”
The Rafael Ortega Kindergarten in Zapata shows a similar situation: clean and orderly school grounds, surrounded by the very opposite, where dirt roads join paved ones, urban anarchy, a swarm of street food vendors, and streams of water overflowing the drainage system in the middle of dirt washed down by rains from the higher slopes.
“We will not return to classes until the insecurity is over, that’s our only request,” the teachers reiterated. They added that they would distribute study guides to those students who could try to pursue their studies at home.