Police clash with protestors in Mexico City, 31 people arrested

Reuters
Members of the teachers' union CNTE and protesters stand near a burning barricade before they are evicted from Zocalo Square by the riot police in downtown Mexico City September 13, 2013. Violence broke out in the historic heart of Mexico City on Friday as scores of riot police forcibly evicted thousands of striking teachers occupying the capital's iconic Zocalo just days before Independence Day celebrations in the capital. Firing tear gas at angry protesters, riot police braced for violence as they swept into downtown Mexico City to re-take control of the Zocalo and its surrounding streets, the culmination of weeks of protests that had seen teachers set up a massive protest camp in the world's second largest square. The Metropolitan Cathedral is pictured in the background. REUTERS/Henry Romero (MEXICO - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS EDUCATION BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
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Members of the teachers' union CNTE and protesters stand near a burning barricade before they are evicted from Zocalo Square by the riot police in downtown Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators in the main square of Mexico City on Friday, arresting 31 people, as the government took control of the historic center after weeks of protests by teachers.

Federal police clashed with some protestors as they cleared the massive square, or Zocalo, for celebrations on Sunday, when President Enrique Pena Nieto is due to lead his first traditional remembrance of the heroes of Mexican independence.

Teachers have been camped out on the square in protest of a new education reform designed to impose tougher teaching standards, and strip educators of some privileges such as the right to pass on their jobs to their children.

The Interior Ministry said none of the people arrested were teachers but did not identify who they were. Mexican media said about a dozen police were slightly injured.

The teachers' protests have presented one of the first major challenges to Pena Nieto's authority, and they have provided a focal point for some militant leftists opposing his government.

Pena Nieto took office in December, pledging to revive the Mexican economy with a series of reforms. The education reform, which had broad political backing, was the first of those major bills to be signed into law earlier this month.

Mexico began its armed uprising for independence from Spain in 1810, and it was granted in 1821.

(Reporting by Mexico City Newsroom)