Teachers have shaken Mexico once again, just as they did in 2006. Seven years ago, educators from Oaxaca led their people against the murderous PRI governor Ulises Ruiz. This time, they have launched the most serious challenge to the government of Peña Nieto and his associates in the PAN and PRD. The protests have been of national significance: in more than twenty states, tens of thousands of people have mobilised against the government’s plans for the education system. In addition, this movement promises new waves of protest that could be larger, more organised, and more conscious.
The federal government called on ‘forums’ to simulate taking notice of teachers’ opinions. In August, the systematic educational laws were born, incorporating only the teachers’ demand that education remained free. Upon the imminent approval of these laws by the legislative arms of the government, one of the biggest campaigns of the Mexican proletariat began. Within hours, around thirty thousand teachers from Oaxaca embarked on an average journey of 600km to Mexico’s capital city. Not only was the sheer number of teachers in the movement admirable, but also their strength and determination to stand up against the government attack on their rights. With the experience acquired in 2006 in the street confrontations, it is easier to explain how, within days, the establishment and its institutions were in disarray. One government lackey wrote fearfully that they were living through a “summer of discontent”.
These words are being written just as Oaxacan teachers have announced that it will lift the strike begun seven weeks ago. With this declaration ends what we would call the ‘first round’ against the government’s educational project. Without a doubt, teachers and the Mexican people have come out of this conflict in better conditions than the rotten coalition of the PRI, PAN, and PRD which, in the skirmishes, have revealed contradictions, lack of shame, and immorality.
It is now time to prepare the next battles, not only on the educational front but also against the entire antinational and antipopular programme of the government and its collaborators. We must consider what the lessons from this fight are and we must learn from them. However, the main conclusion today is: the people can triumph, and the ‘Pact for Mexico’ can be defeated.