Zapatistas Condemn ‘Cowardly Police Attack’ on Mexican Teachers
Armed riot police attack striking teachers in the town of Nochixtlan, Oaxaca, June 19, 2016. | Photo: Reuters
In a joint communique, the National Indigenous Congress and the EZLN condemn the Mexican state’s deadly violence in Oaxaca.
The National Indigenous Congress, CNI, and the Zapatista National Liberation Army, EZLN, condemned Monday the “cowardly police attack” against teachers affiliated with the CNTE union, and against the Indigenous community of Nochixtlan in Oaxaca, violence that left at least a dozen dead and dozens more injured.
“Faced with the cowardly repressive attack suffered by the teachers and the community in Nochixtlan, Oaxaca,” the statement reads, teachers should know “that they are not alone, that we know that reason and truth are on their side, that the collective dignity from which they speak their resistance is unbreakable, and that this (is) the principal weapon of those of us below.”
The statement condemns the state’s “escalation of repression,” including “unfair detention and now assassinations,” not just in Oaxaca, but in Chiapas, Guerrero and Michoacan.
The groups demand the state immediately release detained teachers and call for solidarity from civil society against the “neoliberal capitalist reform that they call ‘education reform.’”
The state violence carried out against the protest, according to both social organizations, reflects the violence also carried out against Indigenous and rural communities.
“The ones who delight in power decided that education, health, Indigenous and campesinos territories, and even peace and security, are a commodity for whoever can afford them, and that rights are not rights but products and services that can be grabbed, stripped, destroyed, negotiated according to what big capital dictates.”
Police were attempting to evict teachers from a road blockade on the Oaxaca-Puebla highway on June 19 in the municipality of Nochixtlan when gunfire erupted, leading to violent clashes that lasted approximately four hours.
Teachers from the dissident CNTE union, also known as Section 22, had set up the blockade as part of protests over an education reform implemented by President Enrique Peña Nieto and the arrest of several of the unions’ leaders over the past week.
Peña Nieto unveiled an education reform in 2013 as part of a set of 11 neoliberal reforms implemented in his first 20 months of power.
The controversial law imposes teacher evaluations in order to determine which applicants will be chosen to fill open posts in the public school system nationwide. Critics say the testing only justifies mass layoffs and does not effectively measure teaching skills, like the special knowledge and demeanour needed to teach in rural areas and Indigenous communities.