(GPA) Teachers in Mexico began striking in May against the imposed neoliberal education reform. The new laws include a system to evaluate teachers. Critics say the new system does not evaluate applicants based on skill and is a precursor to help implement mass layoffs of over 4,000 teachers. Ongoing clashes broke out over the weekend after protesters refused to remove road blockades. As a result anywhere from 8 to 12 or more have died including student teachers and a journalist. Locals and union spokesmen say the police fired first and are labeling the actions as an attack. Police deny that they fired first. Dozens more have been injured. Users on social media report police have seized control of a local hospital leaving the injured unable to seek treatment. Few reporters are on the ground but locals have been tweeting photos and videos throughout the protests.

Protesters say they have been demanding to negotiate with authorities and begin a dialogue– which is what they hope to achieve with the protests. Hundreds of organizations around the world signed a document on Friday condemning the government and voicing support for the protesters. “We think that the authorities must commit to dialogue, recognizing the just demands of the teachers’ movement, and not to force to solve this and any other conflict, especially in a country marked by violence and impunity,” the letter states.

Prior to the strikes and protests, the Mexican government maintained that the 2012 laws were final and no negotiations would take place. Authorities stated if protests continued they would engage in a “moderate use of force” as a “last resort.” Well for authorities, a “last resort” scenario happened on Oaxaca-Puebla highway when the blockades began to effect the flow of commerce and fuel distribution. The clashes have since spread to other areas with barricades and camps. The state oil company, Pemex, issued a statement last week that if the blockades weren’t removed there would likely be a fuel shortage.

This is an ongoing story. Thousands are involved in the protests. At least 21 have been arrested and unfortunately the death toll is likely to rise before an end is reached.

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