Music on the highway blockade in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca.
Originally posted to It’s Going Down
By Scott Campbell
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Initially, the CNTE seemed to be holding to its stance that the strike would continue until the educational reform was repealed.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.
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.
Visit The San Quintín Rebellion microsite.
Originally posted on It’s Going Down.
We’ll start this look at the past two weeks in Mexico with some good news: people getting free. After seventeen months in prison and following a national and international campaign for her release, political prisoner Nestora Salgado was released from Tepepan prison in Mexico City on March 18. The commander of the Community Police in Olinalá, Guerrero, Salgado was charged with three counts of kidnapping. When those charges were dismissed, the state filed three more charges for kidnapping, theft and murder. Again, those charges were dismissed for lack of evidence. Upon exiting the prison, she was received by dozens of community police officers from Olinalá and other towns in Guerrero. Handed a rifle, she said, “We are going to keep struggling so they don’t keep repressing us. If this is needed [raising the rifle], then this is where we will go, but we won’t allow them to keep trampling on us.” At a press conference later in the day, she committed herself to fighting for the freedom of Mexico’s 500 political prisoners, in particular those jailed for carrying out their duties as community police. Joined by members from the People’s Front in Defense of the Land from Atenco, those resisting the construction of La Parota dam in Guerrero, and family members of the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa, she led the count from 1 to 43. “I don’t represent any political party,” she said. “I only fight for my people. Sometimes they ask me if I’m afraid. And yes, I’m afraid, but I’ll die fighting for our people’s dignity. It doesn’t matter what I have to do, I am going to win freedom for our prisoners. I will be present in all of the struggles, as long as they need me.” She is calling for international mobilizations and actions on April 10, the anniversary of the assassination of Emiliano Zapata, to demand freedom for Mexico’s political prisoners.