By Ernesto Arce, June 28, 2016
A few hundred people took part in a vigil outside of the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles to honor people killed and injured in labor protest clashes with police in Southern Mexico. Organizers of the rally are calling on the Mexican government to stop its repression of the teacher’s union and cease efforts to privatize education. Ernesto Arce has more:
[Ernesto Arce]: Los Angeles activists held a solidarity vigil for victims of a teacher’s union strike in Oaxaca, Mexico. They say educators from rural, low-income towns south of the border fear for their lives especially after the most recent carnage.
Gladys del Puerto is a spokesperson for the Latin American Coalition for Ayotzinapa, one of the organizers of the event.
[Gladys Del Puerto]: "So people are going out to protest but the government is repressing them."
[Ernesto Arce]: State and federal police in the southern Mexican state unleashed an attack on protesters that left at least eight dead and dozens injured and unaccounted for. Police were responding to mass protests in Oaxaca against the arrest of two leaders of the CNTE, the National Coordinator of Education Workers union.
Two years ago, 43 rural teachers from Ayotzinapa went missing after local police stopped them on their way to a rally in Mexico City.
Now, the militant union is fighting what it calls reprisals against the union, education reform that will push many thousands out of the profession, and unbridled violence, illegal detentions, and intimidation.
[Gladys Del Puerto]: “…the people that are privatizing education are the transnational companies and in this case the financial institutions are the ones that will benefit. After everything is said and done, the people will have to pay for this.”
[Ernesto Arce]: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto rolled out national reforms in 2013 that included changes to public education. A massive military presence was sent to schools to ensure teachers were following orders.
Given CNTE’s historic militancy, the state’s response was not surprising. Yet similar scenes of war zones played out in small towns across the country, coupled with a massive media campaign denouncing the dissident teachers’ union as self-interested and corrupt.
Rosemarie Lee is with the Trinational Coalition to Defend Public Education:
[Rosemarie Lee]: “Here we have No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, it’s this fake austerity that the government puts in and then these forces have to come in and privatize. And they’re some of the same corporate people. It’s a global struggle. What we see is this repression coming down pushing to have everything by exam. We’re not educating kids.”
[Ernesto Arce]: Southern California activists pledged to keep up pressure on the Mexican government. One organizer said the Mexican people’s will roars just as loud.