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An Expat’s View Of The Struggle In Oaxaca

Monday, June 27th, 2016

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.”

[read on]

An Expat Joke

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

One night, David Ben Gurion dreams that he is dead. God says “you’re David Ben Gurion! What can I do for you?”

And Ben Gurion says “Show me heaven” and it’s very dull. People standing on clouds, meditating, nothing going on. So then he says “OK, show me hell”. And it’s great! Interesting conversations, great food, music, everything!.

So, a few years later he actually does die and, just like in the dream, God asks what he can do for Ben Gurion.

“I’ll take hell.”

“You’re sure?”

It’s horrible! Horrendously hot, endless work, no water, no food…. awful. So he goes to complain

“I saw this in a dream and it was wonderful! What’s going on?”
and God says

“Then you were a tourist. Now, you live here”.

Salem Coffee House Easter

Sunday, April 5th, 2015
Three weeks has turned into three months in Oregon. Rain alternating with sun and hail. That's the NW. The CT scan, what I came up here for, showed esophageal varicies but the endoscopy didn’t. Hmmm. So more medical follow up. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Travel Is A Drug

Sunday, April 5th, 2015
The traveler’s high. You’ve no doubt felt it, upon disembarking in a realm where all is unfamiliar. Travel is a drug. It reboots reality, tweaks the senses, and becomes addictive. I crave total autonomy, and shy away from responsibility and attachment. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Thinking of becoming an expat?

Friday, September 12th, 2014
I have been living in Oaxaca for the last 8 years. I now have a permanent resident card. I still have a home in Oregon that is rented out to excellent renters for just enough money to cover the mortgage ... [Continue reading this entry]

All is Transformed

Thursday, September 11th, 2014
[caption id="attachment_3413" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Frank And Kids In The Zocalo"][/caption] For nearly 15 years Frank sat at the same table every day in front of a coffee shop in the zocalo...often making friends ... [Continue reading this entry]

Frank Died Last Night

Thursday, September 11th, 2014
He was "just" a eccentric friend...but a good friend with heart. For years he spent $70 a month living here. He sat at the same table in the same coffee shop in the Zocalo every single day ... [Continue reading this entry]

Expats Take Care

Monday, April 21st, 2014
Well, my friend Jayson Heckler who drove down to Oaxaca from the States to Oaxaca with me in 2010 was the next one. Fell and injured his leg and hip. Doc said to go home and stay down. He did. ... [Continue reading this entry]


Monday, September 30th, 2013
OMG, it's almost been a year since my last RTW! I am planning my next trip back to Thailand to get some teeth in November and to see my sons in Thailand and Hong Kong. I am beginning ... [Continue reading this entry]

When Is An Expat Not An Expat

Monday, July 22nd, 2013
When I refer to myself as an expat in Mexico, I often get asked "what is an expat." Now I am having to change my Mexican visa from a temporary one to a permanent one. Do I want ... [Continue reading this entry]

Where Is Home

Sunday, July 21st, 2013
In his A Global Soul Pico writes "We travel, some of us, to slip through the curtain of the ordinary, and into the presence of whatever lies just outside our apprehension. I fall through ... [Continue reading this entry]


Saturday, August 23rd, 2008
The global expat population has continued to boom - according to the World Bank's Global Links Report 2007, the number of people living outside their home country has more than doubled since 1980 to 190 million - despite the weakening ... [Continue reading this entry]

Sukhumvit Soi 22 Bangkok

Sunday, March 30th, 2008
You hardly find a mention of Soi 22, where I usually stay in Bangkok, in the travel guides. Interesting. Not anything here for sightseers really. But good if you live here long term. The well-dressed tourists in the ... [Continue reading this entry]

Americans Living Abroad

Saturday, September 29th, 2007
Americans living and working outside U.S. borders are recognizing their growing importance in the electoral process. The outcome of the last several primary and national elections could have been very different had they been able to easily register and vote ... [Continue reading this entry]

A Dongle?

Saturday, March 31st, 2007
New Luxury tax on internet usage in Thailand All internet accounts to be taxed with 970 Baht/month. ($235) Hardware dongle required for internet use BANGKOK: -- The government has announced heavy investment to upgrade Thailand's international bandwidth, but has introduced an internet tax ... [Continue reading this entry]

Whats To Love About Oaxaca

Saturday, August 12th, 2006
Juanita, the Mexican-American woman I met at Pachote Market, will ride down here with me in my car in September...a road trip to Las Vegas to see Greg, to Phoenix to see friends and across Texas to the border at ... [Continue reading this entry]

Update on Living In Oaxaca

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006
I have almost finished my application for a Mexican FM3 year-long visa. Forms have to be filled out exactly right...with copies...and money paid to a bank. About $200 for the visa and another $40 for them to examine ... [Continue reading this entry]

What I Do Every Day

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006
People ask me what I do all day! It is different every day. The first six weeks, since I arrived May 30, all my time was spent running errands and setting up the apartment while trying to keep ... [Continue reading this entry]

Breakfast at Smile Guesthouse

Saturday, March 25th, 2006
I have changed hotels. I am now at the brand new Bau-Tong Lodge with free WiFi that is down little soi 3 off Loi Kroh...for half the cost of the Galare Guesthouse where I was for the last three ... [Continue reading this entry]

Chiang Mai Felt Like Home?

Sunday, March 19th, 2006
eWCBF9KYWi73omUCUHRffw-2006185115650300.gif Have been here three weeks and Chiang Mai did feel like home for awhile...just long enough to get oriented and find the good places to eat. I spent all afternoon today in my ... [Continue reading this entry]

International Night On Koh Samui

Saturday, February 25th, 2006
We're back on Samui and I have rented a brand new furnished one bedroom house for $12.00 a night at "Solitude Resort" on a mountainside about a mile from Doug and Luk's bungalow. The first evening we were welcomed by our ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bumrungrad Hospital

Thursday, January 19th, 2006
Nearly as diverse as New York, sitting in a Bumrungrad waiting room is a show of national and ethnic costume...many from the middle east...burkas, jalabas and Arabic head wear...males greeting each other by touching noses...or foreheads...I couldn't tell. The ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bangkok Business

Thursday, January 12th, 2006
Nearby, in ironically named Washington Square, is the Bourbon Street Bar and Restaurant where an entire wall, surrounding a dart board, is covered by business cards. Here is a sampling that you would probably not see at home: Halliburton, Trident ... [Continue reading this entry]

Third Culture Kids

Monday, October 17th, 2005
Third Culture Kids are children of expatriate families who live for a significant proportion of their lives in a culture other than their own, where they travel to many countries other than their own passport country. This results in ... [Continue reading this entry]

Thainess And The West

Sunday, July 17th, 2005
The July 2005 edition of the slick upscale magazine for English-speaking foreigners called The Big Chilli ran an article with interviews of prominent Bangkok residents to get their views of what constitutes Thai culture. Two were Thai and two ... [Continue reading this entry]

A Fine Balance

Monday, June 13th, 2005
Listening to an expat radio station on the internet today, I discover that in Bangkok 2006 there will be an International Summit on Public Toilets...


Tuesday, August 6th, 2002
There are many expats in Bangkok who love this city and it's people for many reasons. One day I struck up a conversation with a Brit woman sitting next to me on the SkyTrain who worked for an international ... [Continue reading this entry]

Yellow Chicken Camp

Monday, May 20th, 2002
t5vdleC6v9bjElbi1QdXwg-2006193164953338.gif May 20, 2002 Then to Yellow Chicken Campsite and dinner in the dark. The charming camp, in the middle of a huge 40 year-old German farm, is run by a Brit and his wife who ... [Continue reading this entry]

Chitimba Beach Camp

Friday, May 17th, 2002
PZmR20gwby0cg19rXgklIw-2006197131657399.gif When we pull into the camp compound there are three trucks aready,, and written in huge letters across the sides.The camp bars in Africa are open-air like they usually are ... [Continue reading this entry]

Back To Snake Park

Saturday, May 11th, 2002
The next morning, on the road back to the Snake Park there are small villages and shops; give me pen; give me something; what do you have to give me...the kids yell out to us as we drive past them. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Street Children in Nairobi

Thursday, May 2nd, 2002
The next morning we went out to explore on foot and spent the entire morning dodging begging children. I am an older grandma figure so I get "mama, buy me some shoes-I have no shoes please. One piece of ... [Continue reading this entry]

Nairobi…First Impressions

Wednesday, May 1st, 2002
On April 30, 2002, the plane from Cairo landed in Nairobi Kenya to music from "Out of Africa" (groan) and a horrific monsoon-season rainstorm. A taxi ride to the downtown area that should have taken 20 minutes took three ... [Continue reading this entry]

Cultivating Hate In Children

Tuesday, April 30th, 2002
gvSQ2vhpltKkixr9PjGld0-2006186175750571.gif On the same day that Arafat finally condemned the terrorism against Israel, his wife, who lives in Paris, granted an interview with an Arabic-language magazine, Al Majalla, wherein she endorsed suicide attacks as legitimate ... [Continue reading this entry]

Cairo Egypt

Sunday, April 21st, 2002
gvSQ2vhpltKkixr9PjGld0-2006186175750571.gif On April 21, 2002 while waiting for our flight from Athens to Cairo, we visited briefly with a gentleman sitting next to us who was on his way to Alexandria for what we thought ... [Continue reading this entry]