Teachers’ strike, political violence in Oaxaca

80,000 striking teachers marched in Oaxaca City June 2 to press their demands for better wages and a reorganization of the state’s education system, marking the largest mass mobilization in the city’s history. In addition to a large state police presence, a contigent of 500 elite Federal Preventative Police were dispatched to the city for the rally. (La Jornada, June 3) “The governor has sounded the drums of war, but we will not be intimidated,” said Enrique Rueda Pacheco, secretary general of Section 22 of the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE), speaking of Oaxaca’s Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. (La Jornada, June 4)

That same day, thousands of SNTE also blocked the road to Oaxaca’s Benito Juarez International Airport, effectivelty shutting it down for several hours. (La Jornada, June 2) The previous day, thousands of teachers blocked the highway between the towns of Ciudad Aleman and Puerto Angel. (La Jornada, June 1)

The dissident National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), a more militant current within the SNTE, announced it would organize such protests throughout the country if the Oaxaca teachers’ demands are not met. (La Jornada, June 4)

Political violence is growing in Oaxaca. On May 29, the Oaxaca City office of the Citizens Defense Committee (CODECI), a group that supports the teachers’ strike as well as the Zapatista “Other Campaign,” was invaded by a group of 60 men armed with clubs and machetes, who were believed to belong to a local paramilitary group called the Popular Worker-Peasant General Union (UGOCP). The armed men threatened and roughed up those in the office, and stole equipment. (CODECI press release, May 31)

Campesino protesters also marched on Oaxcaca City May 30 to demand justice in the May 18 slaying in San Juan Mixtepec of Moisés Cruz Sánchez, founder of the International Network of Indigenous Oaxacans (RIIO), a group which worked on behalf of Mixtec migrant laborers on both sides of the US-Mexico border. (La Jornada, June 3; La Jornada, June 2)

All sources online at Chiapas95.

For more on Moisés Cruz Sánchez, see Noticias de Oaxaca, May 30.

See our last post on the Mexico crisis, and on Oaxaca.

  1. “Teacher-Popular Mega-March”
    From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 4:

    Some 50,000 to 80,000 teachers and their supporters marched on June 2 in Oaxaca, capital of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, in one of the largest demonstrations in the state’s history. The 70,000 teachers in Section 22 of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE) went on strike on May 22 and started a sit-in in front of the old Palace of Government in the capital, along with blockades affecting 56 streets in the Historic Center. Their demands center on a cost-of-living adjustment to their salaries and more resources for education and for building schools.

    Students, parents and local social movements joined in the June 2 “Teacher-Popular Mega-March,” which stretched from the Fuente de Las Siete Regiones to the site of the concluding rally, the Plaza de la Danza, at a distance of about five kilometers. The social movements were protesting repression by the government of Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); they charge that the state has at least 40 political prisoners, held since 2004, from municipalities including Santiago Xanica, San Juan Lalana and San Blas Atempa. “Governor, listen to my teacher,” the marchers chanted, along with: “A teacher in struggle is also teaching,” and “Like it or not, Ulises is on his way out.”

    Gov. Ruiz Ortiz says the state can’t offer more than an increase of 60 million pesos, since cost of living increases are the responsibility of the federal government. Local businesses are demanding an end to the teachers’ sit-in, and on June 3 Ruiz Ortiz threatened the teachers with fines and firings if they didn’t return to the classrooms by June 5. As of June 3 there were unconfirmed reports that the Mexican government had sent 1,500 agents from the Federal Preventive Police (PFP) to remove the teachers; the PFP force was reportedly encamped in Tlacolula de Matamoros, 30 kilometers from the state capital. (La Jornada, June 3, 4)