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Mexico: Education Reform Written in Blood

David Bacon, Renata Bessi & Santiago Navarro F.  |  Issue: July | August 2016
Teachers on strike

Teachers on strike. Worldwide, tens of thousands are demanding that the Mexican government stop its violence and repression against the teachers.
PHOTOS: David Bacon & CNTE


On Sunday, June 19, federal police in Oaxaca, Mexico, fired on teachers and supporters in the Mixteca town of Nochixtlán, killing at least four and wounding 50 more.

The latest confrontation between teachers and the federal government since the 2013 National Education Reform. Why is the government willing to kill for Education Reform? The Mexican government is being transformed to better serve the interest of big corporations. These reforms were proposed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), under the OECD-Mexico Agreement to improve the quality of Education in Mexican Schools.

Too often “improvements” and “reform” are code words for privatization. True to form the Mexican government has already sold bonds on the speculative market that have attracted investors like BBVA Bancomer and Merrill Lynch who have already invested 8.581 billion pesos, approximately US $457 million. Next the government converted these bonds into common stocks that will have to generate profits for shareholders.

These “reforms” are part of the structural adjustment Program (SAP) guided by the World Bank, IMF and the Inter-American Development Bank. There are at least eleven more similar “reforms” in other sectors including: labor, energy, finance, broadcasting to name a few.

The Mexican teachers estimate that by toppling the education reforms it will be possible to defeat the others. This is why the government is willing kill to implement the Education Reforms.

Privatizing education means prioritizing profits over students, and some estimate that 60% of the 1.2 million teachers will lose their jobs. That is why this reform focuses on recruitment procedures, and teacher supervision and not on true changes to improve education and the working conditions of teachers.

On May 19, Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño Mayer announced the firing of 4,000 teachers from Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Michoacán for not having worked for three days. All three states are strongholds of the independent teachers’ movement within the National Union of Education Workers–the National Coordination of Education Workers (the CNTE, or “Coordinadora”). While strikes in Mexico are hotly contested, there is no precedent for firing teachers in such massive numbers just for striking.

One controversial provision of the federal government’s Education Reform requires teachers to take tests to evaluate their qualifications. Those not making good marks are subject to firing. This year, when the government tried to begin testing, teachers struck in protest.

On June 11, President Peña Nieto announced that he would only talk with the teachers if they agreed to two conditions. “The Government of the Republic repeats that it is open to dialogue only when they comply with two conditions: returning to work in the schools of Chiapas, Guerrero, Michoacán, and Oaxaca, and accepting the Education Reform.”

It is clear this is not a Mexican problem but a problem of global corporate dictatorship taking over democratic institutions across the globe. We should not only stand in solidarity with the Mexican teachers, we should recommit to defending public institutions in the U.S. but also demand that our tax dollars committed though Plan Merida to fight the so-called drug war not be used to repress teachers.

Article based on excerpts from David Bacon article published in The Nation

And article by Renata Bessi & Santiago Navarro F.  published in Telesur

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