The Americas

Mexican government meets with radical teachers' union

  • Protesting teachers, accompanied by a mediation commission, huddle together in discussion inside the courtyard of the Interior Ministry, as they await the start of a meeting with Secretary of the Interior Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, in Mexico City, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. The negotiations between the striking radical teachers and the government come three days after a clash between protestors and police in Oaxaca state left eight dead. Though who started shooting is disputed, journalists filmed police firing their weapons in the confrontation, which also left more than 100 injured. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

    Protesting teachers, accompanied by a mediation commission, huddle together in discussion inside the courtyard of the Interior Ministry, as they await the start of a meeting with Secretary of the Interior Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, in Mexico City, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. The negotiations between the striking radical teachers and the government come three days after a clash between protestors and police in Oaxaca state left eight dead. Though who started shooting is disputed, journalists filmed police firing their weapons in the confrontation, which also left more than 100 injured. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)  (The Associated Press)

  • A protesting teacher holds a flag from the CNTE teachers union, as a group of teachers and a mediation commission, pass through a security barrier outside the Interior Ministry, on their way to a meeting with Secretary of the Interior Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, in Mexico City, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. The negotiations between the striking radical teachers and the government come three days after a clash between protestors and police in Oaxaca state left eight dead. Though who started shooting is disputed, journalists filmed police firing their weapons in the confrontation, which also left more than 100 injured. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

    A protesting teacher holds a flag from the CNTE teachers union, as a group of teachers and a mediation commission, pass through a security barrier outside the Interior Ministry, on their way to a meeting with Secretary of the Interior Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, in Mexico City, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. The negotiations between the striking radical teachers and the government come three days after a clash between protestors and police in Oaxaca state left eight dead. Though who started shooting is disputed, journalists filmed police firing their weapons in the confrontation, which also left more than 100 injured. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)  (The Associated Press)

  • Members of a mediation commission working with protesting teachers walk past police as they enter a security perimeter surrounding the Interior Ministry, while arriving for a meeting with Secretary of the Interior Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, in Mexico City, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. The negotiations between the striking radical teachers and the government come three days after a clash between protestors and police in Oaxaca state left eight dead. Though who started shooting is disputed, journalists filmed police firing their weapons in the confrontation, which also left more than 100 injured. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

    Members of a mediation commission working with protesting teachers walk past police as they enter a security perimeter surrounding the Interior Ministry, while arriving for a meeting with Secretary of the Interior Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, in Mexico City, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. The negotiations between the striking radical teachers and the government come three days after a clash between protestors and police in Oaxaca state left eight dead. Though who started shooting is disputed, journalists filmed police firing their weapons in the confrontation, which also left more than 100 injured. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)  (The Associated Press)

Leaders of a radical teachers union have held an initial meeting with Mexican government representatives to try to defuse tensions after eight people died in clashes in the southern state of Oaxaca.

The five-hour meeting in Mexico City late Wednesday was considered a first step. It produced only an agreement to meet again Monday to establish a formal agenda.

The teachers have demanded the release of their arrested leaders and a halt to implementation of sweeping education reforms.

Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said in a statement after the meeting that he made clear that the reforms were law that the government had to carry out. But he left open the possibility of compromise on other demands.

Teachers and their supporters have frozen commercial traffic in Oaxaca with roadblocks.