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Mexico: teachers' strike spreads up the Pacific coast while Oaxaca cautiously holds firm

In for the long run: rainy season and 24 hour open air occupations

The annual teachers' strike in Oaxaca has been bolstered by soldarity strikes of other sections of the Sindicato Nacional de los Trabajadores en la Educación (SNTE) stretching up and down the Mexican Pacific coastline, while in Oaxaca itself, occupations and blockades continue apace in support. Most analysts however have already doomed the strike to failure.

On Friday 30th, the strike by the Oaxacan SNTE local (Sección 22, around whose strike coalesced the 2006 revolt) entered its 12th day, with more motorways blocked, more tollbooths closed down and more education buildings occupied throughout the state. Teachers have also managed to close down various shopping malls throughout Ciudad de Oaxaca itself, while the occupation of the Zócalo (central square) is maintained.

Encouragingly, the strike, supported since day one by SNTE members in the state of Michoacán, has also seen solidarity by other SNTE members in the states of Guerrero (directly to the north of Oaxaca) and Chiapas (directly to the south), although workers have now returned to classrooms in both states.

In Oaxaca, the SNTE strike is now an annual event, yet some of the teachers' demands (such as the democratization of the SNTE) are now being picked up by teachers in other parts of the country. In Tabasco, a caravan convoy of SNTE members has now departed for Mexico City, some 1500km away.

In Oaxaca and Michoacán, responding to criticisms from some quarters which claim that the schoolchildren will lose out on their education, teachers have found various ways to avoid that scenario while maintaining industrial action. In Oaxaca, teachers have held 3 day long strikes each in rotation, depending on their region, with each region marching on the plantón (encampment) in the Zócalo of Cuidad de Oaxaca in order to relieve the last.

Meanwhile, the local government awaits the response of Sección 22 to their latest offer. The strike is still scheduled to run nine more days, but most seem to be relatively confident an agreement will be made before its official end. Indeed, the mood in Oaxaca seems to be relatively negative, with street vendors around the Zócalo and the proprietors of the plaza's various cafes and restaurants joining with the local government to condemn the strike and occupation. For most Oaxacans, the memories of 2006 are still too fresh to even consider this movement going any further.

An informative article about Oaxaca two years on from the revolt: http://www.narconews.com/Issue53/article3113.html

Posted By

Caiman del Barrio
May 30 2008 23:50

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David Jacobs
Jun 1 2008 16:01

Dear lib.com readers,

I hate to pour cold water on anyone's enthusiasm over recent developments in Oaxaca, but the above report gives no details on the political forces at play in the current teachers' strike there. The role of the Stalinist FPR in Section 22 of the SNTE is not mentioned, nor is there any discussion of the fracturing of APPO into a wing controlled by the FPR and another that could loosely be described as anti-authoritarian.

The planton conducted by Section 22 may turn into something interesting, but then again it may not. These protest encampments occur every year in Oaxaca,
and it was only in 2006 that it broadened (in the face of repression) into a social movement that escaped the union's control.

At this point, it seems unclear whether the remnants of this social movement are coming back to life or whether the strike is being pursued by Section 22 along fairly corporatist lines. The teachers union was viewed by many in Oaxaca as having sold out the movement in 2006, and it is not a certainty that the current strike will receive wider support or that a more radical movement will again emerge in the wake of it.

I could be completely wrong, of course. I am not there. But I do think a more nuanced report is needed to make sense of what is going on in Oaxaca right now.

The article that is referenced at the end of the report (the narconews article by Nancy Davies) does not provide a very in depth analysis, either.

Caiman del Barrio
Jun 1 2008 17:03

Hi David

I'm unsure as to why everyone is so convinced that my coverage of this is "enthusiastic". In fact, I've been in contact with the strikers and I've tried to replicate their pessimism on here. Of course Seccion 22 is Leninist-dominated, it's a rank and file union movement. I don't think you'll ever get any sort of political movement without its leftists. I think it's useless to denounce them as merely "Stalinist" (an almost meaningless term in 21st century Latin America) without stating what that means in real terms, which for Seccion 22 means a continued orientation towards changing the national leadership of SNTE rather than forming a new organisation outside of the charrista structure.

The strike is currently very unpopular, in fact, yesterday students blockaded a highway as an appeal for an agreement to be reached (as happened in the UAM strike in DF a few months back). Seccion 22 have rejected the government's offer though, which is what I came on here to post originally: http://www.noticias-oax.com.mx/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3459&Itemid=31

As for the APPO, well they've hardly been mentioned since the 3rd day of the strike so I'm not gonna pour over details of who called who a twat. I'm well aware of the political divisions of 2006, but are they really still an issue nowadays? And for the record, most "anarchist-leaning" analyses of the APPO divide it into 3 currents.

In short, if you want more nuance and more depth, it's your prerogative to provide it via the "create content" button.

Thanks and welcome!

Alan

David Jacobs
Jun 4 2008 03:35

Dear Alan,

Thanks for your thoughtful reply to my message and for giving some more details about what's going on now in Oaxaca.

My friends and I have created a bit of content already on Oaxaca (Broken Barricades), so I think we've said our piece on the issues you
raise about APPO, etc.. I would point out that the term "Stalinist" has a precise meaning when applied to the FPR (Frente Popular Revolucionario), which is controlled by the overtly Stalinist (They aren't coy about it: they carry placards of Stalin in marches and protests and have hung banners of him around the
zocalo in Oaxaca in the past) Communist Party of Mexico (Marxist-Leninist).

I look forward to reading your updates on the current situation.

All the best,

David