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Mexico breaks up teachers' blockade of highway

Friday - 4/5/2013, 10:07pm  ET

A Mexico's Federal Police officer reacts while watching public school teachers breaking the fence that blocked a street near Mexico's Interior Ministry during a demonstration in Mexico City, Thursday, April 4, 2013. Radical Mexican public school teachers are holding marches and blocking roads to battle a newly enacted education reform that would weaken union powers. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) -- Hundreds of federal police forced protesting teachers off the main highway between Mexico City and Acapulco Friday after the demonstrators blocked the roadway for hours, causing a huge traffic backup.

The teachers were protesting an educational reform that will submit them to evaluation and loosen union control over hiring and firing. Teachers had blocked the four-lane highway at least twice for before, starting in March.

A photographer on the scene said helmeted police with shields pushed into the crowd of teachers, who fought back with pointed staves. Police responded with tear gas.

Deputy Interior Secretary Manuel Mondragon told local media that four police officers had been injured, none seriously.

Mondragon told the Milenio television station that the police did not used guns during the operation, but that protesters had gasoline bombs, sticks and staves.

The government of Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located, said in a statement that traffic was flowing freely on the highway by late Friday.

Gov. Angel Aguirre had previously held talks with the protesters, and asked them to stop blocking highways because of the damage it was doing to the tourist resort.

During previous blockades, some Acapulco-bound tourists had cancelled hotel rooms and vacation plans because of the highway blockades. Hotel owners and business groups had filed legal complaints against the teachers because of the lost income.


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