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  • Thousands of students march in support of the CNTE union in Apatzingan, in the southern state of Michoacan, Mexico, June 14, 2016.

    Thousands of students march in support of the CNTE union in Apatzingan, in the southern state of Michoacan, Mexico, June 14, 2016. | Photo: CNTE Michoacan

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Teachers from the CNTE union have pledged to increase their protest actions after the government arrested several of their leaders.

Renato Sales Heredia, national security commissioner, stated unequivocally Tuesday that the government will use force to repress mobilizations by striking teachers and their sympathizers.

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Teachers from the CNTE union announced they will be increasing their protest actions after the federal government arrested several of their leaders on what the union considers to be spurious charges.

In Mexico, common protest tactics include shutting down major highways or staging protest camps in front of government offices.

The CNTE, which is presently on strike over the government's education reforms, often employs these types of political actions.

Heredia said that a “moderate use of force" would be used to clear out these types of protests. He added that it would only be used as a “last resort,” but the Mexican government has been the subject of criticism by human rights groups for too often employing force against protesters.

Tensions between the CNTE and the government are exceptionally high after seven leaders were detained over the past week.

The CNTE considers those detained to be political prisoners.

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The union and its supporters say the arrests are a thinly veiled effort to weaken the union as it engages in mobilizations to challenge the government's highly controversial education reform.

The government has warned that there are outstanding arrest warrants for an additional 24 trade unionists.

The timing of the arrests has raised suspicions that the arrests are indeed driven by an effort to silence critics.

A government official said they have evidence suggesting irregularities in contracts signed by the CNTE in Oaxaca and alleged there was a kickback scheme in place to fund demonstrations by its members.

The CNTE has called for a demonstration in Mexico City on Friday.

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