Chilpancingo – Nearly 5,000 teachers took to the streets of the Mexican Pacific resort city of Acapulco to demand that officials provide protection for them in the wake of threats from criminal organizations.
The teachers, who belong to Guerrero state's CETEG education union, have stayed away from their classrooms since August due to fears that criminals running protection rackets might harm them for failing to pay.
Hundreds of schools reopened Monday after army troops set up checkpoints near the buildings, but CETEG said many remain closed.
The checkpoints only protect some areas in Acapulco, a popular tourist destination on Mexico's Pacific coast, CETEG members said.
Teachers in the port city are still getting threats constantly, a union leader told Efe on condition of anonymity.
"They constantly put up banners or signs near schools that say even the authorities cannot prevent us from paying them to keep working," the teacher, who has taught in Acapulco for 15 years, said.
The march Wednesday snaked its way from the Glorieta de Diana Cazadora to the main plaza, where a meeting took place.
The protesters did not have the support of teachers from the powerful SNTE union, which is led by Elba Esther Gordillo.
Officials in Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located, said Monday that elementary schools and high schools in Acapulco had reopened after nearly six weeks.
Opponents of the SNTE, however, said their schools remained closed and 450 of the city's 1,270 schools were shuttered, while officials said 90 percent of schools had reopened.
Guerrero state, whose mountains are a prime growing area for illegal crops, has been the scene in recent years of a war between rival drug cartels that left 370 people dead last year in Acapulco alone.
The state, which suffers from a high level of poverty, has also been affected by other types of conflicts, and guerrilla groups have sprouted up there.
Most of the killings in Acapulco have been blamed on a war between the Cartel Independiente de Acapulco and the La Barredora gang.