BootsnAll Travel Network

An Expat’s View Of The Struggle In Oaxaca

The government has (since the 1968 slaughter of students in Mexico City) hired “students” who sign up for university but don’t go to school to infiltrate and instigate trouble in order to turn the populace against theteachers. They are called “porros” and they do most of the damage like molotov cocktails, slingshots, burning of cars and buses and graffiti. That’s not to say that some more radical teachers don’t participate in that stuff but I don’t think most of the teachers do.

I know the union is really corrupt and they coerce the teachers and their relatives and friends to march aided by the more radical teachers. Parents are suppose to get a pkg of goods (forgot what it’s called in Spanish) regularly as long as they participate in anti govt activities.  The teachers have to sign off on it. But if the parent isn’t participating the teacher won’t sign off.

That’s not to say of course that most of the teachers and parents don’t support the strikes. Also when the Union was handling the salaries teachers wouldn’t get paid if they didn’t participate in strike activities.  Now the Govt has taken over the administration of Section 22 of the Union and is handing out salaries.

The governor here in Oaxaca has tried to clean out the union. Months ago they confiscated computers, and several brand new pickups belonging to the Section 22 Union. Recently they arrested 2 of the leaders…one for embezzlement and the other for stealing textbooks.  The textbooks were taken by Sec 22 because they were supposed to go a rival union section, section 59.  Section 59 was started by a couple hundred teachers who objected to Sec 22. But that wasn’t reported.  I think I read that that guy was released on bail.

Then there are practices that people object to. Like teachers can sell their certificates to someone else or hand them down to family members. Sometimes these people aren’t even educated beyond the 3rd grade.

On the Expats in Oaxaca FB group an American woman who is married to a Mexican, and who lives in a small village in the mountains (didn’t say which village) and has 3 children in a school there posted this:
“The Reforma Educativa, has various issues, essentially, it is an ADMINISTRATIVE reform, in regarding job conditions for school teachers and fails to talk about curriculum or anything at all that happens in the classrooms.. Public primary school teachers are not well paid, but have always had a very generous benefits package to make up for it, which includes many things most foreigners, myself included, would find ridiculous, like the right to leave your position to one of your children or sell it when you retire. (That was based on the idea that if you were a business owner you’d do the same, so to make teaching an attractive career in earlier times they included some sort of building up capital for your children into it) So this reform basically makes teachers like temp contract workers, who can be fired at anytime are no longer building up seniority and yes, one of the conditions is all the teachers will be forced to pass an exam in order to keep their positions. There is a ton of mis information flying around on either side. There is a ton of corruption in the teachers union leadership, so neither side is innocent. But the vast majority of public primary school in the state would make you cry when you walk in, I know they make me cry, even some that are considered among the best.”

These were the kids that were in our violence prevention/alternative education program in Forest Grove/Hillsboro Oregon. Kids who dropped out of high school who were on a 3rd grade ed level. Most of our families were from Oaxaca and it’s why I came down the first time. I just wanted to see where they were from and stayed.  I’ve lived here 10 years. The people are friendly and humble and in spite of all the corruption and poverty they find a way to enjoy their families and their lives with celebrations of important holidays, fiestas, candelas, dancing, processions, music, and arts and crafts.

Right after the federal government passed the education reform bill, a group of teachers and parents met with Oaxaca Governor Cue and agreed on some changes to the bill. When Cue took the agreement to the federal government for sign-off, 18 changes had been made to it.  This enraged the teachers and parents and I think this is when the planning for these strikes this year started.

Historically, the teachers have been striking each May for 30+ years.  The worst one before this was in 2006 when I moved here on June 1. On June 14 the municipal police tried to teargas the teachers out of the zocalo but the teachers fought them back with tent poles. That strike lasted 7 months with 25+ people dead including American videographer Brad Will.

Aside from all this, the reform bill is not just an education bill though. It’s a labor bill. And other businesses are included.  The govt is trying to install a neoliberal economic model in line with the world economic order. But unlike people in the U.S. who can’t see it, these people here aren’t stupid. They know what is going on in spite of little education because they are on the front line and can feel it. So doctors and nurses are objecting to it too. And the electric companies, unions and other entities.  Several hundred doctors and nurses marched past my apartment last sunday.

Beyond all this is the fact that people are fed up with government corruption.  It didn’t help when President Peno Nieto had to have his own personal jet. And most people know the govt was behind the killing of the 43 student teachers in Michoacan. The marches are calling for Nieto to step down.

AMLO is waiting in the wings. Wiki: Andrés Manuel López Obrador also known as AMLO[7][8] is a liberal politician who held the position of Head of Government of the Federal District from 2000 to 2005, before resigning in July 2005 to contend the 2006 presidential election, representing the Coalition for the Good of All, a coalition led by the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) that includes the Convergence party and the Labor Party. He is the leader of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) and was a candidate for 2012 presidential election, representing a coalition of the PRD, Labor Party and Citizens’ Movement (formerly Convergence).[9] He announced his resignation from the party on 9 September 2012.

It’s multi state now and there are marches all over Mexico in solidarity.  But the “non ethic” of corruption permeates society. It’s top to bottom. Family members cheat family members. Driven by poverty it’s accepted as the only way to get ahead. The example is set at the top.  I could give you a hundred examples just about people I know. I see all the same shit in Thailand.

I had to chuckle the other day after the gov’t passed some anti corruption legislation. A bunch of businessmen dressed in suits and playing classical music were demonstrating in Mexico City at the monument to the Revolution. Because the bills required financial transparency of contractors doing business with the govt but didn’t require transparency of the govt depts themselves!

The human rights folks and radical activists are predicting (maybe hoping?) for a 2nd Revolution. Sigh.

TV here just spouts the govt party line to turn the general population against the teachers. The police, in the press, are saying the police were unarmed. But there are videos of police shootings. A teacher said that the shooting was coming from the side…not the front line of the police at Nochitlan.

And I have a conspiracy theory. When Coppel and OXXO were looted, the video of Coppel, 20 minutes long, showed people leisurely carrying out everything from clothes, to TVs to refrigerators and going back in for more.  This was in a shopping mall where there are usually security officers standing around. Where were they that day? I suspect the government allowed it to show the “criminality” of the teachers.  They didn’t look like teachers to me anyway. Those stores, internationally owned were probably reimbursed for the losses. Just my suspicion. BTW I saw a video yesterday of police looting another Coppel store. People were standing around objecting but police just waved them off.

But the general population doesn’t read or see alternative news. They are just trying to get to work every day and the bloqueos don’t help. Sometimes it takes 3 hours to go around them.  Now the tourists are going to stop coming which is 70% of the income here. Businesses will close. So no wonder people are fed up with the teachers. Aided by the propaganda in the local TV newscasts.

Those who can afford it send their kids to private school. I wish there were other tactics but god only knows what they would be. Disruption and making the State “ungovernable” seems to be the only power the teachers and other entities have.

Maybe in this electronic age the Revolution will be televised (with cell phones) after all.

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