“We are all Guerrero”: Mexico’s new popular education revolt, led by educators, takes on the state
April 26, 2013
Catalyzed by a teachers’ strike against federal education reform, a new popular movement is gaining momentum in Mexico. And in expanding its agenda to encompass long-standing grievances ranging from environmental destruction to insecurity and indigenous rights, the movement is posing a serious challenge to not only the policies of new President Enrique Pena Nieto, but the broader economic and political direction of a country ravaged by three decades of neo-liberalism as well.
In the southern state of Guerrero, two mass demonstrations this month (which drew between 50,000 and 120,000 people each, according to different press accounts) exhibited the growing strength and future potential of the popular uprising. In both instances, teachers, students, small farmers, labor union members and housewives, Mestizo and indigenous alike, jammed the streets of the state capital of Chilpancingo in a show of unity by the newly formed Guerrero Popular Movement (MPG).
Declaring the defense of public education as its first priority, the MPG has also taken stands against new mining projects, privatization of the national oil company PEMEX and increasing the 16 percent national sales tax.
In addition to the Guerrero State Coordinator of Education Workers (CETEG)- a large dissident organization within the National Union of Education Workers- the MPG’s adherents include the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Guerrero, #YoSoy 132, the Mexican Electrical Workers Union and the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization, among others.
Significantly, the indigenous Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC) forms part of the MPG’s backbone. Representing more than 120 indigenous communities (with another 50 communities reportedly on the road to membership) in the Costa Chica and La Montaña sections of Guerrero, the CRAC is the leadership body of the highly-popular community policing and justice system in indigenous regions of the state, which stands as an alternative to the top-down, centralized policing system being implemented by the Pena Nieto administration and the nation’s governors.
In an analysis of the first mass protest organized by the MPG in Chilpancingo on
April 10, the anniversary of Emiliano Zapata’s assassination, Guerrero’s Tlachinollan Human Rights Center observed that the teachers’ movement and the MPG have given broad sectors of society their “own channel” to make a deep disaffection known.
“The citizens who’ve suffered grave injuries caused by unemployment, hunger, violence and theft are in the majority,” Tlachinollan wrote. “They are pushing from below in a novel movement that’s struggling against torn-up structures nourished by corruption and which allow the co-governance of delinquency.”
Guerrero’s movement is reminiscent of the 2006 teacher’s strike in Oaxaca that transformed into a popular rebellion and occupation of the state capital before it was repressed by the administration of former Gov. Ulises Ruiz with the backing of the federal government under President Vicente Fox.
After reading numerous PRI-biased MSM sources about the Mexican teachers revolt, I’m glad I finally found this one that gives real perspective about the threat of a government-controlled & -evaluated education system.
Yesterday, teachers set fire to the PRI headquarters in Guerrero & spraypainted anti-government slogans on the outside of the building. Teachers have also blocked major highways in Mexico City since their strike began two months ago.