Skip to content

Deforming reforms: beyond the teachers’ strike

22 June 2016

Despite a minor factual error by news-reader Dharna Noor (the people killed in Nochixtlan weren’t teachers by profession), this is without a doubt, the best explanation of the issues involved in what is behind the troubles in Oaxaca, and what the larger meaning is for Mexico.

A few take-aways:

  • When we talk about a “Teachers’ Union” we are actually talking about a “Education Workers’ Union”.  Much of the negative spin about the union is that key members don’t work in a classroom.  Support staff, human resource workers, administrators, curriculum designers, etc. are all “education workers”.
  • The issues go far beyond school reforms, and the education reforms are only the tip of the iceberg.  As noted near the end of the second video, doctors (and other health workers) have said they’ll be joining the strikes, countering “reforms” within their own public sector.
  • The “spin” has been that teachers (and other public sector workers) are just incompetents afraid of losing their jobs.  The counter-argument is that they are not given the tools to do their jobs (schools in Oaxaca without bathrooms or running water is one of the simplest examples of what I mean).
  • The state is trying to impose (and has been since the Salinas administration) “one-size-fits-all” changes to the social and economic system, from the top down, with no input by the “stakeholders” who are affected by these changes, nor who necessarily want them.
  • There will be (more) blood.

More arms for the man

20 June 2016

Despite a deepening economic crisis, marked by the continuous devaluation of the peso and impending cuts in public spending, and absent even an official war against drug traffickers, the Enrique Peña Nieto governent has bought over 1.3 billion dollars of U.S. military hardware in less than a year.

Coming soon to bombing a village near you?  (Photo Bundesheer/K. Tokunaga)

Coming soon to bombing a village near you? (Photo Bundesheer/K. Tokunaga)

The unusual expenditure is revealed in Pentagon documents according to which Mexican spending is nearly triple the 500 million dollars that Washington gave Mexico from 2007 to date in equipment and military technology for the “Merida Initiative” the cooperation agreement to fight drug trafficking and organized crime.

“Last year marked a milestone in our bilateral security relationship with Mexico,” Admiral William E. Gortney, head of the Northern Command (Northcom), said jubilant when presenting his annual report to the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

“Mexico took the unprecedented step to approach the Department of Defense to purchase US military equipment through Military Sales Program. A package of UH-60 helicopters and land vehicles mobility for multiple purposes (VTMPM) with a total value of more than billion, represents an increase of 100 million in purchases made in previous years”, Gortney reported to the Senate hearing on June the Senate at the hearing held 12 May.

The “historic milestone” Gortney referred to, was the acquisitions by the Peña Nieto government of $1,346,000,000 in technology, spare parts and military training between 21 April 2014 and 17 March 2016. This is not counting the 15 helicopters purchased from the Texas company Textron ten days before the appearance before the Senate of the Northcom commander.

According to the Department of Defense’s Defense Agency for Security Cooperation (DSCA) Commuique 14-10 dated April 21, 2014, the Obama administration informed the State Department of it’s approval of the sale of 18 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to Mexico for about $680 million.

Translated from  J. Jesús Esquivel, “EU arma a México: le vende 1,300 mdd en un año… y sin guerra” (Katheon, 21-June-2016, originaly in Proceso)


20 June 2016

I’m way, way, way behind in a promised revision of Gods, Gachupines and Gringos… I know, I know.  Running into trivia like this isn’t all that useful, but it is fun, in a twisted way.

Emperor Maximilian was shot the 19th of June 1867, along with two of his surviving generals, Miguel Miramon and Tomás Meija.  Maximilian’s corpse was eventually shipped back to Austria (after a botched embalming, some diplomatic dithering, and a quicky paint job to cover up the greenish hue he’d acquired as a result of too much meijacopper in the embalming fluid), and Mirimon was buried in Mexico City’s premier cemetery, San Fernando.  When Benito Juarez was buried in what was to have been Maximilan’s plot in San Fernando, Miramon’s family — appalled at the idea of their royalist relation spending eternity next to the Indian who’d had him executed, traded tombs with the family of Republican hero, Ignacio Zaragosa, who died soon after winning the Battle of Puebla, and was buried in that city.

Meija´s corpse had it’s own post-mortem travels.  The general’s widow intended to have her late husband buried back in his native Sierra Gorda region of Queretaro.  But, after paying for a (decent) embalming job, ran out of money.  With Royalists not wanting to come out openly to support the dead heroes of the lost cause,  the next best thing was to give them a chance to gaze once more on their leaders, and chip in to send him off to his final reward.

The widow Meija raised a tidy sum charging admission to see Tomas propped up in the living room,.  Not enough to ship him back to Queretaro, though enough to give him a nifty tomb in San Fernando, where the two Indian enemies lie a few meters from each other.


Two good sites on the situation in Oaxaca

20 June 2016

For monolingual English readers:  Falling Into Incandescence.  Scott Campbell is a veteran alt-media writer and reporter living in Oaxaca.  His old site, Angry White Kid, was well-known for offering reasoned rebuttals to the usual talking points of state policies that drive the mainstream narrative in so much media coverage.

For Spanish-language readers:  Oaxaca Politico.  Think of it as “Animal Politca” (by far the best read news portal in Mexico) with a regional focus.


The Battle of Hacienda Blanca

20 June 2016

Hacienda Blanca, population 6500, sits astride Federal Highway 190, the main route from Mexico City to Oaxaca City. The highway has been blockaded by dissident teachers. The resistance to the Federal Police breakthrough of the blockCapturaade last night involved a lot more people than just a handful of disgruntled teachers.

Uriel Rodriguez of San Pable Etla (the municipio that includes Hacienda Blanca) “Periscoped” live for an hour (until his batteries ran out) the attack.

I’m not sure how to upload from Periscope to WordPress, but until I figure it our, the link is here. 




Although there were no gunshots officially reported, photos from the local Federal Police headquarters show armed men (possibly officers) in civilian clothes.

Solalinde1 Solalinde2 Solalinde3


Major State Repression in Oaxaca: Several Killed, Dozens Wounded and Detained

20 June 2016

With the situation changing so rapidly, the best I can do is reblog from those in Oaxaca.

Falling Into Incandescence


By Scott Campbell

The looming federal police attack on the people and striking teachers of Oaxaca, Mexico has begun. There are reports of between six and eight demonstrators killed Sunday morning at the teachers-peoples highway blockade in Nochixtlán, northwest of the city of Oaxaca. The eight dead that the movement is confirming are Oscar Aguilar Ramírez, 25, Andrés Sanabria García, 23, Anselmo Cruz Aquino, 33, Yalit Jiménez Santiago, 28, Oscar Nicolás Santiago, Omar González Santiago, 22, Antonio Perez García, and Jesús Cadena Sánchez, 19. They were shot and killed when police opened fire with live ammunition on the blockade. At least 45 others have been hospitalized with injuries, the majority gunshot wounds, and 22 have been disappeared.


This piece will focus on currently developing events. For information on what led to this situation, please see the following articles:

View original post 817 more words

Orlando, Veracruz… and the Bishops

18 June 2016

The massacre at Madames’ bar in Veracruz three weeks ago (22 May) was initially written off as “narco-violence” both here and abroad, then promptly disappeared in the media.  It took another gay bar massacre… this one written off as the U.S.’s favorite rationale for mass murder, “middle eastern terrorism” basically overlooked by the media (both here and abroad) until the Pulse massacre made gay bar massacres a thing.

madameWhile it is much more difficult to report on crimes here (reporters, for their own — and their family’s — protection often limited to “official” sources) and we don’t even have the body count, as in Orlando, it’s obvious the “official explanation” is, at most, only a small part of the story.  The “official story” given out about the disappearances of the Ayotzinapa students, which makes one suspicious of official stories in general, reportage on the event overlooked the tense political situation in Veracruz, and… only after the fact… noted the toxic effects of (largely imported) homophobic propaganda here.

Although the Catholic Church hierarchy here has come under fire for its reactionary positions (even by the Pope, who openly criticized the Bishops, and snubbed Cardinal Rivera during the recent Papal visit) in post-Orlando media coverage,  the “after-the-fact” claim that the Church swung the recent election away from the PRI, based on Enrique Peña Neito’s support for a same-sex marriage clause in the Constitution, is far fetched.

norbertoAs it is, Peña Neito’s call is more turd-polishing than anything.  Gay marriages have been the law of the land since 2010, but because of an anomaly in our Constitution, the Supreme Court cannot order states to change their own laws.  However, the Supreme Court ruling is binding, and every federal judge in the country must grant an amparo (injunction) to any same-sex couple who seeks a marriage in a state where such marriages are still not permitted.  When the abysmal state of human rights in Mexico under the Peña Neito administration became a story, and started to filter into foreign media, his call for a constitutional change was a painless way of giving him a “liberal” image.

In reality, while sane-sex marriages are performed in all states but Hidalgo (which recognizes marriages in other states), where laws are still on the books limiting marriage to opposite-gender couples, it has more to do with political inertia or party politics than to any real objections to such marriages.  The poor showing by the PRI had more to do with widespread corruption (especially in Veracruz) than any presidential pronouncement.

indexThe Bishops who have allied themselves to the political elite and the status quo, can read the writing on the wall.  With the “Confessional Party”, PAN morphing with the “liberal” PRD, and the Papacy (along with much of the faithful) looking for a change in leadership in the Church, need an issue to rally the people (and maintain their influence).  Interestingly enough that they’ve had to ally with the Mormon hierarchy, the more conservative Evangelicals and the Orthodox on this, but it shows me that gay marriage — a done deal in all but Constitutional mention — never has been, nor will be,  more than a minor controversy.

While anti-marriage voters are only a minority, in pushing the issue (if the Bishops were indeed, as they now claim, making this a political issue — which would be illegal by the way) the Churchmen are giving support the the most homophobic among us.  The arguments against same-sex marriage that I’ve seen, seem to be cut-n-pasted from U.S. propaganda.  The foreign groups mentioned in Jenaro Villamil’s Proceso article (original here) tie back to groups like “National Organization For Marriage” that depend on U.S. contributors to keep themselves in business.  Gay marriage having become a moot issue in the U.S. (aside from die-hards who are every day less and less relevant to anyone) exporting their causes at least keeps their board of directors employed a bit longer.

As in the U.S., as the legal position of GLBTQ people has improved, there has been an increase in violent backlash.  Part is due just to less reluctance to report violence directed at persons because of their sexual orientation, but also due to the tendency to turn to more and more violent reactions as one’s beliefs are marginalized.

What happened in Orlando appears to have been a perfect storm — a self-loathing gay man (perhaps the result of religious intolerance, in his own religion, and more to the fact, against his religion) who was also known to be prone to violent, having easy access to high-powered weapons.  What happened in Veracruz is harder to figure out (access to the types of weapons used being much more difficult than in the United States, though that’s where they come from) but in both, the intersection of organized homophobia in a politically tense climate cannot be overlooked, nor should it be.

I urge everyone to read Villamil’s “La Santa Homofobia en México” (Proceso, 14-June-2016) or the English translation by Rebecca Nannery, “Mexican Catholic Church Promotes Homophobia” (Mexico Voices, 16-June-2016) for an overview of the issue.

Additional sources:

Desde de Fe


El Universal



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 856 other followers