A Model for Union Activism against Neoliberal Education Reforms—from Mexico

Sin acuerdos concluyó esta tarde la mesa de negociación entre el Ejecutivo local y los integrantes de la Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), por lo que las autoridades se comprometieron a entregar este sábado 16 de junio, una segunda respuesta que será analizada por los magisteriales. Fot La jornada Michaocan

The following paragraphs are from an article Lois Meyer and Ricardo Rosa published by Truthout on October 15:

“The weakening of the public sphere in US education, painful as it is, is minor compared to recent developments in Mexico. For nearly two years, tens of thousands of Mexican teachers have mobilized against so-called ‘education reforms,’ especially in the southeastern Mexican state of Oaxaca, though virtually nothing of this massive teacher movement has been reported in mainstream US media. In Oaxaca and beyond, protesting Mexican teachers have demonstrated, gone on strike, seized buildings, closed highways and confronted the police and army, mainly nonviolently. According to the reformist teacher union movement (the CNTE), the ‘education reforms’ imposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration have nothing to do with educational improvement and everything to do with an aggressive neoliberal political agenda, the privatization of schools and attacks on hard-earned labor union rights and protections. . . .

“On July 27, 2015, as many as 10,000 armed Mexican federal and state police patrolled the streets of the state capital, also called Oaxaca, and nine federal police helicopters ominously traversed the city’s skies. The justification given by state authorities for this massive militarization was ‘to protect public safety.’ In a state where, by government statistics, the percent of those living in poverty increased from 61.9 percent in 2012 to 66.8 percent in 2014, and those living in extreme poverty increased from 23.3 percent to 28.3 percent during these same two years of the Peña Nieto administration, the imminent danger that triggered this massive militarization was simply fear–fear of activist teachers legally and collectively denouncing multiple antagonistic actions taken by the government against the teachers’ union and its power over education in Oaxaca by putting their bodies in the streets.

“Oaxaca’s teachers’ union, Section 22, an 83,000-strong powerhouse in the reformist, democratizing branch (CNTE) of the national teachers’ union (National Syndicate of Education Workers, or SNTE), had amassed its members for a mega-march in the city on that day. The protesting Oaxacan teachers were reinforced by contingents of CNTE teachers from other Mexican states, as well as parents, teacher education students, members of social organizations and the parents of the 43 students from the teacher education school at Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, who were “disappeared” in September 2014. The State Highway Patrol reported that approximately 15,000 protesters participated in the mega-march. Unofficial estimates were between 25,000 and 35,000. All say the response was enormous, yet peaceful. . . . “

Meyer and Rosa’s complete article is available at: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/33245-teachers-resistance-in-oaxaca-offers-lessons-for-us-activism

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