The atmosphere in Nochixtlán, a small, rural community in Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca, was tense on June 20. The day before, members of a dissident teachers’ union had clashed with federal and state police while protesting education reform. Shots were fired and, by the end of the day, nine people had died and dozens more were wounded.
The main highway connecting the town with the state capital, Oaxaca, about 50 miles (80 km) further to the southeast, has been blocked since by the burned-out carcasses of cars and trucks, and piles of dirt, rocks, and wood. Dozens of residents and striking teachers manning the blockade have painted anti-government slogans on the concrete of an overpass and are wary of anyone trying to pass–including reporters.