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article imageMexican firms freeze $2.6 bn outlay over teacher protests

By AFP     Aug 3, 2016 in World

A Mexican industrial trade group said Wednesday it was freezing $2.6 billion in investments in regions hit by protests by teachers who have blocked roads and railroads.

The Confederation of Chambers of Industry (CONCAMIN) urged the government to take measures to restore "the conditions of peace and security needed for industry to be able to perform well."

The CNTE, a dissident wing of the country's teachers union, has held protests against President Enrique Pena Nieto's education reform in the western state of Michoacan and the southern states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas.

"Under current conditions 50 billion pesos in investments by industries in the region will be held back," CONCAMIN said in a statement.

The group blamed the decision to withhold investments on weeks of strikes, obstructions of roads and railways, and sit-ins at shopping plazas.

The announcement came one day after Mexico's main business association, COPARMEX, said it had filed a legal complaint against the government for allegedly failing to take action against the protests.

The CNTE opposes the teacher evaluations imposed by the government's 2013 reform, saying that it puts their jobs at risk and fails to take into account the cultural differences between regions. The government says the tests are needed to improve the level of education in the country.

Tensions boiled over on June 19 when a shooting occurred after police broke up a road block in Nochixtlan, Oaxaca state, by CNTE supporters.

Eight people died and more than 100 were wounded when, according to the authorities, unidentified radicals opened fire. Officials say teachers were not involved in the shootings.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, who has held talks with the CNTE for the past three weeks, hit back at the business groups.

"Now that we are finding an exit, we suddenly see these demonstrations, these petitions, as if we haven't made progress," he told Radio Formula.

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