FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Protesting Teachers Block Mexico City Airport

by JOHNNY HAZARD

Thousands of teachers (seven thousand, according to detractors, more according to organizers), members of a dissident caucus within the dominant Mexican teachers union, blocked access to the Mexico City airport for about 11 hours on Friday July 23. The action was part of a series of escalating protests against the passage, without discussion, of an education “reform” package in the congress in the first day of the term of new president Enrique Peña Nieto, inaugurated in December amid charges of electoral fraud.

News reports have focused more on passengers’ and airline employees’ lamentations about inconvenience than about the teachers’ demands. One newspaper carried the complaints of a flight attendant who hurt her feet because she had to walk a mile or two to the airport in high heels, as if her unfortunate choice of footwear were the teachers’ fault. Teachers were about to enter and shut down the airport when some of their leaders paused, negotiated with authorities, and decided to limit the action to a blockade of all roads that lead to the airport (a highway and several major thoroughfares). This, while disappointing some of the more avid participants, still had the effect of forcing the delay or cancellation of most flights.

The week of intense protests began when the congress was to begin a special session to pass legislation that would enable the reform measures, which include more standardized testing for students and teachers and a fast-track route to fire teachers in violation of collective bargaining agreements. Media, business, and government leaders here tend to blame teachers for the low academic achievement of students who attend school only a few hours every day in schools with peeling paint, crumbling walls, no running water, soap, toilet paper, or nutritious food and a teacher shortage (not for lack of applicants) that creates class sizes of 40 or 50 in the early grades. In rural areas it is common for teachers to appear only via closed circuit television.

Teachers surrounded the lower house of the congress and forced the legislators to try to meet in the senate chambers. When that didn’t work, legislators went to a business conference center in a distant suburb. The congress has yet to vote these proposals which, if not for the protests, the dissidents believe would have been voted immediately and without discussion.

Manuel Pérez Rocha, education critic and retired university administrator, wrote recently in La Jornada newspaper about the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), the dissident caucus:

“The CNTE is not perfect, but it is a reality that is separate from the vice-ridden Mexican political system: It is not a party, nor a sect, nor an economic interest group. It is a ‘movement’ with two basic objectives: the democratization of the SNTE (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, the mainstream teachers’ union) and education reform. The latter is not possible without the former.

Francisco Nicolás Bravo is general secretary of Section 9 of the SNTE. Located in Mexico City, Section 9 has always been a hotbed of the dissidents, so much so that the national leadership doesn’t recognize the local’s officials and stages mock elections to put more loyal leaders in office. Bravo, therefore, doesn’t benefit from the reduction of classload that logically is granted to teachers’ union leaders everywhere. His work in Section 9 and in the CNTE is in addition to his fulltime school assignment. He speaks of a campaign, complete with a movie that imitates “Waiting for Superman” (“De panzazo”), to convince the public that recalcitrant teachers are against being evaluated.

“The question,” he says, “is what kind of evaluation are we talking about? Because we’re in favor of an evaluation that is holistic, not partial–formative evaluations, not punitive evaluations.” He calls the goverment’s project “labor and administrative reform, not education reform” and notes that it eliminates all possibility for a fired teacher to appeal his or her dismissal: “Even a delinquent–we need only look at the case of Caro Quintero–has the right to legal defense.” (Caro Quintero is an accused drug trafficker convicted of the murder of a DEA agent who was unexpectedly freed from prison a few weeks ago.)

This week, teachers continue to occupy the Zócalo, the central square of Mexico City, engage in surprise protests, and decide whether to participate in the negotiations agreed to during the blockade of the airport. Many rank and file members are opposed because they believe the government will not dialogue in good faith.

JOHNNY HAZARD is somewhere where the banks won’t find him, but he can often be reached at jhazard99@yahoo.com

Johnny Hazard is somewhere where the banks won’t find him, but he can often be reached at jhazard99@yahoo.com.

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail