Chiapas Teacher’s Movement: A Struggle Against Exploitation, Dispossession and Repression

Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas. June 16th, 2018

The democratic state teachers, together with their compañerxs at the federal level, are very clear that their struggle is one of “dignity and necessity”. It is a struggle against the self-titled federal “education reform” and a struggle of local demands in defense of public education and labor rights. This was demonstrated Saturday morning before a disproportionate police operation meant to prevent the action in the Western part of Tuxtla. The educators were not intimidated, on the contrary, they decided to carry out their leafletting activity, receiving monetary and affective support from the automobiles that came and left from the Chiapas capital.

Since June 11th, the state teachers have carried out an indefinite strike. The dissident teachers continue the history initiated in 2013, when after decades of domination by the official union (SNTE), they began to organize themselves from the diverse regions of Chiapas. Their intention has been to defend themselves against the neoliberal politics of the federal and state government, carried out under the banner of the self-titled “education reform”. They have achieved the consolidation of an organization in the State Democratic Assembly (AED-40), following the 22 principles of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE).

In the four-month strike of 2016, the state educators solidified their commitment to defending education in Chiapas and nationally though juridical and political routes. They have also organized the Community School Project (PCE), a parallel proposal seeking a true connection between schools and the communities. Five years of organizing can seem like a short time, but for the teachers, the AED has meant arduous work, day in and day out. “The road has been made while walking”, reflect educators of different generations from their encampment east of the center of Tuxtla.

After almost a week of the strike, and a week of permanent protesting in the capital of Chiapas, the teachers in resistance know that the struggle will not be easy. “We see the necessity for this struggle, by means of an indefinite strike, until all our demands and met and resolved. We know are demands are within the scope of action”. This they expressed to the state executive Velasco Coello who is known for administrating the diverse problems of the state and not solving them.

If the state executive continues with what the teachers on strike consider “closed politics”, by not meeting their demands, it will only demonstrate disdain for education in Chiapas. This has been demonstrated by not giving immediate attention to the schools damaged by the earthquakes this past September. The necessities in the schools of all the zones and regions of Chiapas are evident, but by giving priority to the construction of shopping malls and expanding the installation of Special Economic Zones, Velasco demonstrates that the only thing that motivated him to seek state office, is to assure his economic future. This of course has been the historical role of caciques and landowners in the state.

The state educators are struggling against this history of exploitation, dispossession and repression represented by the government of Velasco Coello. “We will not allow that the teachers and the people of Chiapas are continually denied of their popular demands. We will never surrender nor accept the privatization of public education! We will not give up in defense of labor and social rights of hundreds of thousands of teachers in the country!”. This battle call has been affirmed by the teacher members of the Trilateral State Union (AET), made up by the State Democratic Assembly (AED-40), Indigenous Education Level (NEI), and the Central Council of Struggle (CCL-7). Furthermore, with the participation of interim teachers, the Union of Workers of the Intercultural University of Chiapas, Telebachillerato Comunitario, students of the Normal schools, parents and solidarity social organizations.

Translated from the original here: http://www.pozol.org/?p=16542