I’m not one to give the new year much significance. It seems an imposed and arbitrary marker. While reflection upon the Earth completing one orbit around the sun does contain an offering of awe, there is no need for a churchly calendar to determine when that happens. And as with all events that once commemorated and reaffirmed the human’s place among the natural, spiritual, and cosmological, the new year has been emptied and rendered into spectacle. Now it is more a reminder of the severing of our beings from that which we co-created over millennia and has been ensnared in a system that demands forgetting, produces oblivion, and sells it in the name of progress.
It rained earlier this week for the first time in months. Heavy and steady. From where I sit, the nearby peaks are coated in snow. The sky is clear; the air is crisp and juniper scented; the birds flit and chatter among the trees. Not long ago, those peaks weren’t visible, as the air was thick with the smoke of numerous fires, and the only rain that fell was ash. While dates are ultimately circumstantial, today carries a feel of cleansing or reprieve from a year engulfed by flames, fears, breathlessness, and losses.
With the ongoing teachers’ strike that has morphed into a widespread rebellion, primarily in Oaxaca and Chiapas, we haven’t put together a more general roundup of resistance and repression in Mexico in some time. While that struggle is very much alive and well, the intensity with which it is unfolding has diminished some. This column will first take a look at the past three weeks of that conflict (if you need to get up to speed, check out this piece) and then cover some of the other recent events around the country.
The teachers belonging to the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) have now been on strike for more than two months. Since the massacre by federal and state forces in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca on June 19, in which eleven people were killed, the conflict has taken on an increasingly popular dimension. This has looked like direct actions, marches, material support and expressions of solidarity from across Mexico and beyond, in numbers far too large to recount individually.
By Simón Sedillo and Niñx Salvaje
Photos by Radio Jenpoj and Estereo Comunal Yeelatoo SubVersiones
July 3, 2016
Translated by Scott Campbell
In Oaxaca, 12 people were killed by police between June 19 and 26, 2016, while participating in the current rebellion happening in the state. One of those killed was a teacher, the rest were part of the people. Despite the violent repression, a multitude of blockades remain in place throughout the state, be they temporary or permanent. In addition, thousands of men and women, children, young people, elders and entire communities have rallied in support of the teachers, in repudiation of the repression and against the structural reforms and neoliberal policies that threaten communities. In this context, one thing is clear: the struggle in Oaxaca is not just a teachers struggle but belongs to the peoples who for their part are also fighting for life, territory and autonomy. In Oaxaca, the peoples’ resistance does not begin nor end with the teachers: it began centuries ago and the road ahead is long.
Our rage cannot be contained by police bullets, by the State’s jails, by the media’s lies. Our dead will not be forgotten, their combative spirit has spread so that we may take justice into our hands.
Nochixtlán and Oaxaca resisted as the Isthmus region has resisted, demonstrating to the powerful that we don’t fear them, that we will confront them, we will defeat them; in the cold Mixteca the frontline has not been neglected. In spite of the pain that invades the people, they know the worst way to remember those who died in battle is to abandon the war.
I’m excited to share news about the launch of a new microsite on the San Quintín rebellion in Mexico published by Regeneración Radio to which I contributed the translation from the Spanish original. Below are excerpts from the site. I strongly encourage you to visit the full site. It’s worth it.
The strawberry harvest was approaching and thousands of farmworkers were preparing to shut down the Transpeninsular Highway on March 17, 2015. There was no turning back. Two years earlier, a slogan had spread like a dust cloud throughout all of San Quintín Valley: fair wages. And between the rows, there where celery, squash, greens, chile, beet, cucumber, tomato, strawberry, blackberry and raspberry are planted to be sent to the other side of the border, there was already talk of a “crazy idea”: they had to rise up.
For Gloria, the movement has changed her life. Before March 17, she wasn’t aware that a strike was being planned for the entire valley. But that day she arrived at the school where she works as a teacher and the classes had been suspended. “I went back to bed. Later they told me: ‘there’s a movement and the highways, the banks are closed.’ I left and there was no one in town. I walked until I reached a group of people and approached a lady who was at the front. She told me that they were denouncing, as farmworkers, the injustices and the violations of their rights. She said to me: ‘Don’t stay silent, child, you have to speak, wherever you are, you have to speak.’” A mountain of memories came over her and she joined in the fury.
As the violence and repression instigated, permitted and perpetrated by the Mexican State continues to grow, it can become overwhelming to summarize it in these pages in a way that does justice to the victims and survivors of state terror and impunity. Yet as the grim tallies multiply and impact more and more lives, so does the clarity that what the state offers even in its best moments is no solution at all, and from that point resistance flourishes. The sparks of refusal and defiance despite the odds ignite around the country, making meaning out of that which seems so senseless, breathing reclaimed life into a panorama of death. As América del Valle of Atenco said earlier this month, “Even with everything they did to us, we don’t come here today as martyrs. We don’t come to cry…We’ve come here to say NO!” Lxs insumxs. Let’s see what they’ve been up to over the past two weeks.