Mexican teachers announce indefinite strike

Faced with neoliberal educational “reforms” by the national government, Mexico’s teachers in the state of Oaxaca, backed by the national union, have announced they’ll remain on strike until the changes are revoked.

From teleSUR English:

The striking CNTE teachers, entering their third month of protest, announced on Saturday they will hold an indefinite strike against neoliberal education reform starting Tuesday.

The relaunch of strikes will be bigger and will integrate more states and other social organizations, said the CNTE union. They will begin with a march in Mexico City.

Among their demands are dialogue with state and federal officials for the repeal of the reform, punishment for the masterminds and executers of the deadly police repression in Nochixtlan and the release of all political prisoners detained during the protests.

They are also demanding the resignation of Minister of Education Aurelio Nuño Mayer and denouncing the ultimatum of Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong to end the blockades or face their forced removal.

Norman Stockwell, writing for The Progressive, adds some context:

The concerns of teachers in Oaxaca will resonate with educators in this country. In 2014, writing for The Progressive, labor journalist David Bacon reported: “Oaxacan teachers and their union, Section 22 of the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE), say the federal education reforms rely too heavily on standardized testing, and punish teachers for the low scores of their students.”

For Oaxacans, the migration of young people away from their communities is a huge problem, that has grown drastically since the 1994 implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Bacon quotes one teacher who said:

“If we want young people to stay, we have to have an alternative that is attractive to them . . . That starts with education.”

In June of 2006 I travelled to Oaxaca city with fellow journalist Elizabeth DiNovella who then worked for The Progressive magazine. We were covering the Mexican presidential elections, but took a detour to interview the protesting teachers in Oaxaca. Members of the CNTE (Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación), the dissident members of the national teachers’ union, occupied the central square in a protest that had begun in May. While teachers’ protests had become pretty much an annual event in the State of Oaxaca,  2006 was noticeably different. Unified under the banner of “APPO” (the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca), social movement activists from throughout the state occupied the main square in Oaxaca City calling for the ouster of Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. The protests lasted seven months. During the conflict, they took over a TV station and several radio stations. Governor Ruiz’s party was eventually defeated in an election in 2010, and he was later arrested on charges of embezzlement in 2014.

Last week’s protests sound very much like the protests of 2006, but with even more violence by police. On June 25, hundreds gathered in Los Angeles in solidarity with the teachers in Oaxaca. Mexico’s Catholic bishops are also calling for dialogue, an investigation and more transparency by the government.

This year’s struggles in Oaxaca are just beginning, but activists are planning for a long fight.


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