Mexico: Guerrero teachers form alliances

Dissident teachers in the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero continued their protests against planned changes in the educational system on April 10 with a march in Chilpancingo, the state capital, that brought together a broad range of grassroots and labor groups. According to the State Organizing Committee of Education Workers in Guerrero (CETEG), the protest’s sponsor, 100,000 people participated, making the march the largest in the state since 1984; Guerrero’s Governance Secretariat estimated the crowd at 40,000. At a concluding rally in the city’s Zócalo, the main plaza, the organizers announced the formation of a new coalition, the Guerrero Popular Movement (MPG). Commentators noted that a popular uprising that paralyzed the neighboring state of Oaxaca in the summer and fall of 2006 featured a similar coalition, the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO); the national daily El Economista wrote that the groups forming the coalition in Guerrero were even more radical than the ones that made up the Oaxaca organization.

Groups participating in the march included: the Regional Coordinating Committee of Community Authorities-Community Police (CRAC-PC), an autonomous community police force founded in 1995 in the state’s Costa Chica and La Montaña regions; the Mexico City-based Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME); the Autonomous Only State Front of Union Representatives, composed of some 12 unions; and the Council of Ejidos [cooperative farms] and Communities Opposed to the La Parota Dam. Some chants were very militant; “Teacher Cabañas, the people miss you!” referred to schoolteacher and rebel leader Lucio Cabañas Barrientos, who was killed by the military in 1974. Others were more educational: “They’re hiding the truth, that’s why you obey. Turn off the TV and read a book, that way they’ll tremble and disappear.” There was some vandalism along the march route, and one protester attacked the state office building with an axe.

Dissident teachers also protested in other states on April 10. Members of the National Education Workers Coordinating Committee (CNTE) marched from the Monument of the Revolution in Mexico City to the Palace of Justice, where they filed for injunctions against the government’s educational “reforms.” In Morelia CNTE leaders said the group’s local assemblies would be discussing the possibility of a national strike; the Guerrero teachers have been out since March 25, although the job action partly coincided with Easter vacation. In Morelia, capital of the central state of Michoacán, at least four organizations of students, teachers and campesinos demonstrated in solidarity with the teachers in Guerrero. (El Economista, April 10; La Jornada, Mexico, April 11)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 14.