Activists In Oaxaca Protest Education Reform After 9 People Die In Police Clash

After a clash with Police in Oaxaca, Mexico, nine people are dead. The clash, which happened after a week of street blockages and protesting on a major highway to Mexico City, also injured 53 civilians and 55 police officers.

Teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico have been fighting for educational change since the spring. Oaxaca is one of the three Mexican states noted for being involved in the independent teacher’s movement within the National Union of Education Workers (Coordinadora). Coordinadora has sought to stop the government from implementing a reform program, which would effect the position of teachers in Mexico as agents of political and social change. David Bacon of The Nation, reports:

“On March 22 [educational secretary] Nuño also announced a measure that would spell the end to Mexico’s national system of teacher training schools, called the “normals.” Instead of having to graduate from a normal, he said, anyone with a college degree in any subject could be hired to teach. Since the Mexican Revolution and before, the normals have been the vehicle for children from poor families in the countryside, and from the families of teachers themselves, to become trained educators. Returning to rural and working-class communities, teachers then often play an important role in developing movements for social justice. The normal schools themselves have historically been hotbeds of social protest and movements challenging the government.”

READ MORE: Why Are Mexican Teachers Under Fire for Protesting Education Reform?

Gustavo Esteva, founder of Universidad de la Tierra, in Oaxaca, claims that the governor ordered the police and permit them to open fire. He also maintains that in Oaxaca, with the teacher’s struggle for human rights, the “battle has just started”.

“This is a very complex war. It doesn’t—it did not start in Oaxaca. The teachers’ struggle, it is a global struggle. It started in Colombia, in Brazil, in Chile, in the U.S.—everywhere. And today we are in a war trying to say a very firm no to this kind of education. It is useless instruction. We are discussing education. We have a plan of education. We can offer an alternative for—of education. And we are saying no very firmly to all the so-called structural reforms that mean basically a change of only ownership. They are selling our land, our territory. The people are resisting. And then we are resisting with them to oppose this kind of operation.”

The killing of nine people has prompted experts to investigate the disappearance of 43 Mexican students, in September 2014. Mexico’s military has also been under fire for carrying out extrajudicial killings and torture, in an attempt to end drug cartels.

READ MORE: One year ago, 43 Mexican students were killed. Still, there are no answers for their families