Mexico police forces cleared Mexico City’s main square of thousands of demonstrating teachers ahead of Independence Day celebrations, leaving police officers and protesters injured.
Riot police clubbed marchers and sprayed them with water cannons after the demonstrators lobbed objects in a struggle to control the square, which had been occupied by teachers since mid-August. Some protesters threw Molotov cocktails at the officers, according to Milenio TV.
Thousands of teachers from southern Mexican states set up a tent city in the square, known as the Zocalo, to protest President Enrique Pena Nieto’s education overhaul, which was passed this month and requires evaluations to hire and promote educators. The Pena Nieto administration ordered the square cleared in time for his Sept. 15 Independence Day “grito,” or shout, traditionally given from the national palace to spectators in the Zocalo.
“The purpose of this is so national festivities can be carried out in the capital’s Zocalo without any incident,” Deputy Interior Minister Eduardo Sanchez told reporters just before police removed protesters.
Television images of the clashes showed one man with a bloody face and a police officer wheeled away on a stretcher. The federal police press office declined to comment when contacted by phone about people injured during the teachers’ removal.
Educators have marched almost every day since occupying the square Aug. 19, at times blocking access to the airport, stock exchange and congressional building. More than 15,000 teachers halted traffic on Paseo de la Reforma, the main business boulevard, late last month.