Wednesday, September 11, 2013

National labor strike fizzles in Guadalajara and elsewhere, as federal education reforms take effect across the nation

MGR News Analysis -
An embarrassing turnout by protesting teachers in Mexico's second largest metro

*Updated Oct. 2*
Guadalajara -
Teacher unions have been making waves and making news in Mexico since Aug. 19, when the most radical of two major syndicates staged a state-wide walkout in Oaxaca, leaving a million kids without classes on the first day of the new school year. Teachers still have not returned to their classrooms.

The strike spread to neighboring Chiapas state a week ago and to the Yucatán peninsula soon after, although with less enthusiasm and less effect in the latter.

MGR articles reviewing education reform are below, with a quick summary of the issues in the video.

On Aug. 29 the most vocal of the two unions, the Coordinadora Nacional de los Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), called for a nationwide strike not only by educators, but by other labor sectors as well. That clarion call came only hours before both houses of Mexico's federal congress passed the education reforms by an overwhelming 5-1 margin. The hoped for mega strike was originally planned for last Sunday, but the date was changed to today because it conflicted with a scheduled energy reform protest by a darling of the Mexican Left (Manuel López Obrador: Peña Nieto is a "disaster").

Yesterday president Enrique Peña Nieto signed the new bills into law, and when they're published in Mexico's Federal Register this week the legislative battle will be over. The strikes, however, are likely to continue indefinitely, although they are largely confined to a handful of states where CNTE enjoys considerable political clout, and has a stranglehold on local educational systems from top to bottom.

Mexico's secretary of education, who maintains that the strikers represent less than 10% of teachers nationwide, warned in an interview last week that when the new laws come into force, those who miss three consecutive days of school without just cause will be fired. Governors in Oaxaca and Yucatán have frozen the wages of striking teachers, and will dock them for each day they miss. In an excellent piece this morning in Mexico City's respected El Universal, prominent columnist Carlos Loret de Mola suggested that dissident teachers are social and political reactionaries of the worst order: Clash.

In the meantime, the much ballyhooed national strike was a complete nonstarter. CNTE protesters did march in the Federal District once again, where they have been ensconced in tents for the better part of a month. But other labor unions did not rally to their call. The main worry of officials in Mexico City tonight is finding a way to dislodge the teacher's syndicate by this weekend, when the nation's Independence Day festivities begin. The city needs the space for the Sept. 15-16 commemoration, which every year draws tens of thousands of domestic and foreign visitors.

Guadalajara had its own impressive "national mobilization" of teachers and labor today - all 500 of them, that is. They gathered about noon in the city's main plaza, and marched a few blocks to a government building for the ceremonial knocking on the door and the demand for a redress of political grievances. No one answered, to be sure, but the orderly and polite marchers continued on their way, escorted by a handful of smartly dressed police officers who looked pleased to be out in the fresh air.

Everyone behaved on a beautiful, sunny September afternoon, and of course absolutely nothing was accomplished. The teachers' young students, wherever they were, got yet another day off school. And the maestros themselves proved that the right to protest is alive and well in Mexico, even when you're protesting the clear will of the majority. A good time was had by all, as CNTE fizzled in Guadalajara.

Sept. 12 - In a recap of yesterday's anemic demonstration, Guadalajara's El Informador reported this morning that of Jalisco's 11,243 primary and secondary schools, 203 were closed on Wednesday due to teacher absences. That's less than 2%. The paper quoted local police, who estimated the crowd of union protesters at a paltry 180, even less than MGR guessed at the height of the mid-day march.

Sept. 12 - Mexico City police, attacked yesterday by CNTE thugs: Hay que decirlo sin cobardía: los policías son las víctimas

Sept. 12 - Yucatán teachers fold, return to classes

Oct. 2 - Striking school teachers from CNTE forced the closing of about 200 Jalisco schools today. That matches almost exactly the events of Sept. 11.

MGR reports on education reform and teacher strikes
Sept. 6 - School closings spread to Yucatán, but Peña Nieto says "there's no turning back"
Sept. 4 - Teachers' union ups the ante, calling indefinite strike in Chiapas
Sept. 3 - Mexico's Senate passes education reform bill, as labor unions threaten civil disobedience
Sept. 2 - Mexico's House of Deputies passes education reforms
Aug. 31 - Oaxaca freezes pay of striking teachers
Aug. 30 - Oaxaca education at the mercy of omnipotent syndicate
Aug. 29 - Teachers' union calls for nationwide strike
Aug. 25 - PRI government shows no resolve against thug teachers
Aug. 19 - Continued teacher strikes idle almost a million students in Oaxaca

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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