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Anti-reform protesters clash with police in Mexico

September 2, 2013

MEXICO CITY – Police launched tear gas at protesters who threw rocks and firebombs in Mexico City on Sunday, leaving two officers injured during a demonstration against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s reform agenda.

Scores of students teamed up with thousands of teachers who have led several protests in the capital in the past two weeks, challenging Peña Nieto’s shake-up of the education system.

The city’s public security department said four people were detained after a group of protesters clashed with police in a separate demonstration against the president’s controversial plan to open the state-controled energy sector to foreign investment.

Masked demonstrators clashed with hundreds of riot police, who used their shields to defend themselves, an AFP correspondent said. The student protest group #YoSoy132 said six of their comrades were detained.

The students and teachers joined forces to march toward Congress as Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong prepared to deliver the government’s first annual report since Peña Nieto took office in December.

But the teachers left the Congress after masked protesters again clashed with riot police. The students also left the area, saying they feared arbitrary detentions.

Peña Nieto was originally scheduled to deliver his state of the union address on Sunday, but his speech was moved to Monday to avoid more disturbances, officials said.

Some 10,000 teachers have camped out in the capital’s historic Zócalo square for the past two weeks, leading protests that have snarled traffic in the congested city, disrupted air travel and forced two soccer league games to be postponed.

Last week, lawmakers were forced to meet in a convention center after teachers circled Congress, but Peña Nieto has warned that there would be no turning back on the reforms.

Congress has already passed changes to the constitution to overhaul education and they are now due to vote on implementing the new rules requiring teachers to undergo mandatory performance tests to get jobs or promotions.

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