As the teachers’ strike in Mexico continued into the start of the school year, the last Insumisión column noted the tense situation developing, particularly in Oaxaca, with the break down of negotiations between the teachers union and the government and the arrival of hundreds of more federal forces to the state. While there was a show of force by the Oaxaca state government before dawn on Sunday, September 11, the feared widespread repression did not occur. Instead, the struggle against the neoliberal educational reform and structural reforms in general has lost some of its consistency and coherency as various state sections of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) take different approaches following the start of the school year.
Initially, the CNTE seemed to be holding to its stance that the strike would continue until the educational reform was repealed. When classes were to start on August 22, teachers in Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guerrero, Michoacán and parts of Mexico City remained on strike. Instead of classrooms opening, mass marches and blockades inaugurated the school year in Chiapas and Oaxaca. Teachers installed 25 highway blockades in Oaxaca that they held for 48 hours, except in Nochixtlán, which lasted for four days. In Chiapas, teachers blockaded four entry points into the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez for two days, not allowing trucks belonging to transnational corporations to pass.
In the past two weeks, social movements in Mexico racked up significant victories while continuing to organize in the face of constant state repression. Detractors will point to the several successes won in the courts as examples of the reasonableness and functionality of a democratic government. Those on the ground know that it was not due to a wise and benevolent judiciary that they won, but through years of organization, mobilization and struggle that forced the state’s hand. Even in victory they remain on guard, knowing that the state cannot be trusted and these battles are part of a larger war. That war rages daily as neoliberal capitalism, racism and patriarchy continue to plunder the peoples and territories of Mexico and beyond.
Readers may have heard of the assassination of indigenous land and water defender Berta Cáceres in Honduras on March 3. Wounded during the attack was Gustavo Castro Soto, a member of Otros Mundos from Chiapas. Fearing for his safety, he attempted to leave Honduras only to be detained by authorities and ordered to remain in the country for 30 days. A few days later on March 14 movements around Mexico participated in the International Day of Action Against Dams and in Defense of Rivers. The Chiapan Front in Defense of Water, Land and Life held an action in the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, while the Mexican Movement of those Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers (MAPDER) released a map documenting the 40 people from Mexico to Colombia killed since 2005 for organizing against dam construction. The map quickly became outdated the following day when Nelson García, a member of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) – the same group Berta Cáceres belonged to – was assassinated.