Oaxaca: teachers lead day of direct action

The Section 22 teachers union in Oaxaca called its one-day work stoppage and direct action campaign a “success” to press demands for a resolution to the crisis in the conflicted southern Mexican state. At least 48 state government offices were blockaded, including four municipal palaces (Oaxaca City, Tlaxiaco, Nochixtlán, Juxtlahuaca and Huajuapam). A group of local workers from the national social security institute, ISSSTE, blocked highways at various points around Oaxaca. (APRO, May 2) Section 7 teachers went on strike in solidarity and blocked roads in Chiapas state. (APRO, May 4) Meanwhile, the Federal Institute of Access to Information (IFAI), in response to a petition by the civil coalition APPO, ordered the Federal Preventative Police to release all records concerning the repression in Oaxaca last October, including the names of those who were in command. (La Jornada, May 3)

See our last posts on Mexico, Oaxaca and Chiapas.

  1. National May Day mobilization
    From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 6:

    Mexican unionists used the traditional demonstrations on May 1, International Workers’ Day, to kick off a campaign against a new law on public employees’ social security and against proposals to change the labor code. On March 22 the Chamber of Deputies voted 313-146 with two abstentions to approve changes to the Law of the State Workers’ Social Security and Services Institute (ISSSTE) which would raise public employees’ retirement age and set up individual pension plans that could eventually be privatized. The bill was backed by the ruling center-right National Action Party (PAN); the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) added its votes in a deal worked out by Elba Esther Gordillo, former leader of the huge National Education Workers Union (SNTE). (LJ, March 23)

    In Mexico City, thousands of workers marched to the central plaza, the Zocalo, for a May Day rally sponsored by dozens of organizations, including the National Workers Union (UNT), the Mexican Union Front (FSM) and the National Education Workers Coordinating Committee (CNTE), a dissident caucus in the SNTE. Speakers called for a national strike to defeat government policies. “This isn’t a holiday, it’s a day of national struggle,” read one sign.

    Several May Day marches in state capitals turned into confrontations between militant teachers and SNTE officials. In Tlaxcala a march by 10,000 dissident teachers came to blows with a parallel march by SNTE supporters; no injuries were reported. Dissidents tried to block SNTE officials in Chihuahua, and the two sides had a shoving match in Guerrero. In Oaxaca, the SNTE’s dissident Section 22 marched with the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) to demand the removal of PRI governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. In Aguascalientes insults and catcalls from marchers—some wearing only their underwear—forced PAN governor Luis Reynoso Femat to leave the reviewing stand; the governors of Queretaro and Baja California, also from the PAN, decided not to attend their state May Day marches. (LJ, May 2)

    On May 2 the CNTE carried out job actions to demand repeal of the ISSSTE changes. In Mexico City, 500 secondary schools and hundreds of elementary schools were closed completely, and the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM) was partly closed. There were more than 20 demonstrations in the city, including actions at the highway to Cuernavaca; protesters blocked the road intermittently, and seized control of the toll booths, allowing cars to pass for free from 11am to noon. (LJ, May 3) On May 6 the CNTE called for an open-ended national strike in schools and in ISSSTE offices to start on May 7. (LJ, May 6 from Notimex)

    See our last post on labor struggles in Mexico.