Mexico: Repression of striking teachers continues
EI have written to the President of Mexico, Vicente Fox Quesada, calling for him to intervene immediately in order to bring about peaceful negotiations between the government and striking teachers.
The letter follows months of oppression and brutality towards teachers in the Oaxaca region who began a peaceful protest in May over demands for improved salaries and conditions.
In an attempt to quell the protest, state governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz ordered that tear gas be used on the protesters on June 14.
Heavy-handed tactics have followed since then; official operations to clear street barricades have involved armed plain-clothes police, and several people have been killed in incidents involving paramilitary units.
Trade union sources have informed EI of the detention of four teachers' leaders (among them Erangelio Mendoza Gonzalez, former General Secretary of sección 22 del SNTE-CNTE) and the non payment of teachers' wages since August 1.
Ruiz Ortiz on September 26 asked President Vicente Fox Quesada to use federal force to re-establish order and resolve the protests in his state. This follows a September 25 statement by a presidential spokesman, who said the administration plans to resolve the Oaxaca conflict before the president's term ends on November 30.
Fox Quesada has since said that the use of force in a federal response has not been ruled out.
On Monday, as is tradition every October 2nd, citizens and students from all of central Mexico’s colleges and high schools commemorated the 1968 massacre of student protestors and bystanders by government forces. This year’s march drew parallels between the repression of 38 years ago and the situation today.
The content of EI's letter letter to President Vicente Fox Quesada is available below:
Education International – the global union federation of teachers which represents 30 million teachers and education personnel in 165 countries and has the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE) as one of its affiliates – is very concerned with the continued human and trade union rights abuses affecting teachers and their union in Oaxaca.
EI has received messages from sección 22 del SNTE-CNTE with disturbing facts about the repression of the teachers' movement. Sección 22 del SNTE-CNTE denounces police brutalities intended to silence them (resulting in four dead and dozens wounded); the detention of four teachers' leaders (among them Erangelio Mendoza Gonzalez, former General Secretary of sección 22 del SNTE-CNTE) and the non payment of teachers' wages since August 1.
The Oaxaca teachers are so determined to push their demands for increased public investment in education and an alignment of the teachers' wage to the standards of other Mexican States that thousands of them have resolved to march to Mexico City.
One month ago, Education International received a response from the Office of the Mexican Government informing us that it is the intent of the Federal Government to "maintain and impulse a dialogue in order to facilitate a problem solving process at the level of the sovereign State stakeholders".
Unfortunately, current accounts from Oaxaca and international news coverage do not show that the problem-solving process is under way in Oaxaca. On the contrary, news agencies announce a violent police crackdown.
Dear President, Education International urges you again to intervene immediately to end the repression in Oaxaca and to bring about peaceful negotiations with the SNTE representatives of Oaxaca in order to reach a settlement, bringing about a quality public education system and improved status for Oaxaca teachers, one which improves the quality of education. Education International and its affiliates worldwide monitor the trade union environment in Oaxaca and will continue to hold you and your successor responsible for the outcome of the Oaxaca education crisis.
Fred van Leeuwen,