Protests demanding reconstruction of Chiapas schools escalate


Families, teachers and students protest in Chiapas

By: Isaín Mandujano

TUXTLA GUTIÉRREZ, Chiapas (apro)

With marches, the takeover of public plazas, blockages of roads, streets, maritime ports, border bridges and other protest actions, teachers, parents and students escalated their demand that the state federal governments reconstruct and rehabilitate the thousands of schools damaged by the earthquake last September 7.

Since early in the day, hundreds of teachers, parents and their children blocked the road that leads to Puerto Chiapas, in the border city of Tapachula to demand that the state and federal governments, reconstruct classrooms affected by the 8.2-magnitude earthquake that shook this region of the country just 50 days ago.

The parents and teachers that closed that road indicated that there are around eight centers of education where the children don’t have classes due to the fact that they suffered structural damage; even worse, the children have classes outdoors or under trees or wagons.

They denounced that the situation has turned critical for them and for their children, after the conditions in which they have to hold classes have affected their health and mood, thereby reducing their school performance.

The protests affected the arrival of more than two thousand tourists that came on a cruise ship and sought to tour that region of the Soconusco, where coffee fincas (plantations) and boutique hotels abound in that mountainous region of forests and fog.

State government functionaries went to the place to negotiate with the parents; they committed to start making the damaged school habitable right away and thus achieving the unblocking of that road section.

In Tuxtla, members of the State Committee Parents announced that, 50 days after the earthquake, the demands of the parents, teachers and students to repair their schools remain unattended.

Carlos Alberto Reyes Monterrosa and Julio César Díaz Pinto, spokespersons from this state committee, pointed out that there are more than 20, 600 schools throughout the state; of them, some 2,800 have minor risks derived from the earthquake, another 1,727 present mid-level damages and some 762 present a high risk of collapsing.

They also exposed that just in Tuxtla there are more than 800 damaged schools. Last Friday, the state government committed to “lowering” the resources so that the schools are reconstructed and so that the students can return to them.

For now, said Carlos Reyes, there are thousands of children miles that are found in precarious conditions receiving classes. And desperation has obliged them a go into the streets to protest because that’s the only way the government will understand the emergency.

Just yesterday, parents, teachers and their students at the “Adolfo López Mateos” federal secondary school went out to march in the state capital’s principal avenue to demand that their school be fixed.

Javier Santiago Laguna, director of that school, said that while their requests have been heard and received in all the government agencies on whose doors they have knocked, as of now they continue waiting for machines to arrive to demolish the school buildings.

Later he detailed that there are some 18 classrooms and nine workshops and laboratories that are still not usable for the more than 1600 students that education center holds morning and evening shifts.

He also explained that there are minimally around 5 million pesos that should be invested for recovery of the lost spaces.

Gaudencio Cruz Sarmiento, a father, indicated that it is uncomfortable and disturbing for his children to have irregular classes, while bureaucracy reigns in the government for attending quickly to this emergency.

In the primary school “Restoration of the Republic,” located at 5ª North Poniente, and in the primary school “Juan Benavides,” on Central Avenue and the corner of 10 Poniente, teachers and students have come out in the street to hold classes as a protest so that their demands will be heard.

At the same time that teachers and students hold classes in the streets, parents form human walls to block vehicular transit and thus protect their children.

In Jaltenango, teachers and students have taken over the central plaza and have installed tents there for holding classes, so that state and municipal authorities can see them and attend to their demand for reconstruction of their classrooms.

In Suchiate yesterday, teachers, parents and their children blocked the international border bridge to demand that their schools be rehabilitated.

Last Friday, the director general of the National Institute of Physical Education Infrastructure (INIFED), Héctor Gutiérrez de la Garza, announced to members of the National Chamber of the Construction Industry (CMIC) and other colleagues and organizations of construction companies and providers of Chiapas that, derived from the September 7 earthquake, the federal government will invest around 1.029 billion pesos in the state for constructing and rehabilitating the affected education centers.

Gutiérrez de la Garza revealed that there are currently 2, 842 education centers with damages, the larger part of them with minor affectations: a window, a small crack, a tile or perhaps some broken lavatory.


Originally Published in Spanish by Proceso

Friday, October 27, 2017

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee





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