Oaxaca teachers march for justice

From El Universal, Aug. 14 via Chiapas95:

OAXACA – Around 5,000 striking teachers and activists marched silently through the streets of this southern city on Sunday to demand that the murder of one of their number last week be resolved and that state Gov. Ulises Ruiz resign.

The educators conducted their march in almost complete silence – although they did chant occasional slogans – as a sign of mourning for Jose Jimenez Colmenares, the husband of one of the striking teachers, who was shot and killed by an unknown gunman at a demonstration on Thursday.

Organizers called the march “huge and growing.” Francisco Yanez, a special envoy from the federal Interior Secretariat, added that the march came at a time when the teachers, their supporters and authorities are trying to resolve the matter.

Meanwhile, Oaxaca Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello said in his Sunday homily that the region was experiencing “a dirty war that leaves society in a state of maximum vulnerability.”

“If this situation does not stop now, there will be a disaster tomorrow,” he said, adding that “Oaxacan society is expressing itself, in various ways, (and saying) it wants a new way of demanding justice, a new type of humane coexistence.”

The teachers had decided on the weekend not to return to their classrooms as planned because of the death of the demonstrator last week, union leaders said.

The educators also announced on Saturday morning that they would not go back to work until Ruiz resigns and several arrested demonstrators are released, according to the SNTE teachers union.

The leadership of the regional SNTE had announced that the teachers would return to work on Monday to give make-up instruction to students who during the last school year could not attend classes for several weeks due to another teachers strike demanding Ruiz’s resignation.

Union spokesman Daniel Rosas told journalists that the decision not to return to the classrooms was made at the end of a meeting held Friday evening and early Saturday morning.

The decision came a few hours before the burial of Jime’nez Colmenares, who died late Thursday after being shot in the neck by an unknown gunman during a demonstration by the teachers.

Jime’nez was buried Saturday in the town of Ejutla de Crespo, near the city of Oaxaca, the capital of the eponymous state.

“We demand that the death of Jose Jimenez be cleared up and those
responsible be punished,” said another union leader on several local radio stations.

Some 3,000 people belonging to the Popular People’s Assembly of Oaxaca, or APPO, have joined the teachers’ movement.

Oaxaca state prosecutor Lizbeth Cana Cadeza said Friday that Jimenez’s death came in the context of a “fight,” and that the victim had been involved in violence prior to the outbreak of gunfire.

The conflict began in late May with some 70,000 teachers staging a sit-in to press their demand for pay raises. In June the situation deteriorated when police tried to dislodge demonstrators and in doing so brought on a radicalization of the movement, which now demands that Ruiz resign.

See our last posts on Mexico and the struggle in Oaxaca.