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Tijuana Teachers Protest Disrupts Thousands of Commuters

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Aired 4/19/09

A protest in Tijuana shut down all vehicle traffic at the world's busiest border crossing for about three hours on Friday. KPBS reporter Amy Isackson was at the San Ysidro crossing.

Where there's normally a honking traffic jam thousands of cars long waiting to cross into San Diego, this morning it sounded like this.

But for the occasional clang of the pedestrian gate, the border crossing was all but silent.

However, just to the south, about 300 members of a teachers' union staged a noisy protest and blocked the majority of the northbound lanes.

They chanted their opposition to a federal law passed recently in Mexico they say forces them to work an extra 10 years before collecting retirement benefits.

Catalina Heredia has taught for 32 years. She says closing the border is an inconvenience.

Heredia : We apologize. But please understand in the United States, the law, the system works a lot better than in Mexico. But we don't have that. So please understand, we're trying for the legal system in Mexico to work.

The California Highway Patrol pre-emptively blocked all southbound traffic at the 905 for a few hours, forcing travelers to go east to Tecate to cross into Mexico.

Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

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