Enrique Peña Nieto has spent more than US$33 million to promote his education reforms in the media, according to official documents from the country's transparency watchdog, local press reported Friday.
Brutal Crackdown Confronts Teachers' Strike in Oaxaca
The amount is almost similar to the budget for the National Institute for Educational Evaluation, whose main task is to assess the quality, performance and results of the national education system.
Advertising is transmitted mainly by the two monopolies—Televisa and TV Azteca—that control the media in Mexico, and they have been aligned to the government since the beginning of Peña Nieto's administration.
The controversial neoliberal reform, led by international organizations such as the World Bank and the OECD, has been rejected by tens of thousands of teachers, resulting in widespread protests and a violent crackdown in recent weeks by security forces.
Peña Nieto unveiled his reforms in 2013 and since then teachers from the dissident CNTE union have been conducting strikes and occupying public places across the country to demand the government repeal the law.
Last Sunday, protests turned violent in the southern state of Oaxaca, when 12 teachers were killed by security forces after they blocked highways used to transport fuel in protest against the neoliberal reforms. The violent crackdown was condemned by various rights organizations internationally.
Protests began in 2013 when Peña Nieto introduced a total of 11 neoliberal structural reforms during his first 20 months of government, with education being the first. But the protests and the general strike resumed last May after the government refused to negotiate with teachers.
Dictated by international organizations like the World Bank and OECD, one of the main complaints by teachers is the imposition of standardized testing which fail to recognize the special knowledge required to teach in rural areas and Indigenous communities.
In a recent interview with teleSUR, author and analysis John M. Ackerman said the reforms are an attempt to "get rid of the revolutionary tradition that has persisted in education since the early 1920s."
Protests have spread throughout the country with thousands of organizations supporting the teachers.
Next Sunday there will be a huge protest across the country to reject the authoritarianism exerted by the government of Enrique Peña Nieto, who according to recent polls is one of the most unpopular presidents in the history of Mexico.