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The Internationalist
  August 2015

Troops and Federal Police Out of Oaxaca! No Police in the Schools!
Drop All Charges Against Teachers and Leaders of Section 22!

No to the Militarization of Oaxaca
and Education!

Teachers from the militant Section 22 of the National Coordinating Committee of Education Workers (CNTE) protest in Oaxaca on July 26 against the militarization of the state and the educational counterreform serving capital. 
(Photo: Oaxaca Político)
“We would be quite happy to arrest a teacher, but they would immediately take over the airport and shut down the state, and if the police decided to confront them, it would lead to a brawl in which the police would end up running away or come under a hail of rocks because we don’t have the force capability required to confront them.”
–Oaxaca governor Gabino Cué addressing the Permanent Commission of the Mexican Congress, July 16

The march of Oaxaca teachers on August 14 reverberated with calls of “Oaxaca no es un cuartel, fuera ejército de él” (Oaxaca is not a barracks, Army get out!). In reality the attack on Section 22 has little to do with education and a lot to do with an attempt to impose by force the unrestricted domination of the decaying bourgeois regime, that seeks to eradicate all the labor gains of the past and to annihilate the independent workers movement. Today they are offering little in the way of “carrots” – the pitiful crumbs occasionally handed out by the corporatist one-party regime of the PRI-government that ruled the country for 70 years – and lots of “stick.” Governor Gabino Cué himself revealed as much in his appearance before the Permanent Commission of the national Congress on the eve of the July 20 coup against the Oaxaca State Institute of Public Education (IEEPO, see article “Defeat the Union-Busting Attack on Mexican Teachers”).

Responding to complaints by senators and deputies that his government was not imposing sanctions on the “outrages of the CNTE,” the dissident teachers organization, the Oaxaca governor referred to “a union membership [in the state] of 80,000 workers, whose ability to mobilize has historically exceeded the state government’s mechanisms of restraint and control.” He went on to spell out:

“We would be quite happy to arrest a teacher, but they would immediately take over the airport and shut down the state, and if the police decided to confront them, it would lead to a brawl in which the police would end up running away or come under a hail of rocks because we don’t have the force capability required to confront them.”
La Jornada, 17 July

He summed up: “In order to apply the law we need to have a state of force which Oaxaca doesn’t have. We have a little more than 3,088 police and the CNTE has more than 82,000 members” in the state. Conclusion: the real purpose of Cué and Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto is not to improve the quality of education but to install a “state of force” by means of the militarization that is now stalking the state.

The “Days of Dignifying Oaxaca Schools” operation is nothing but a “civic action” taken straight out of the counterinsurgency manuals of the Pentagon, aiming to undercut popular support for the teachers’ insurgency. Naturally, they chose schools where the population had been whipped up by reactionary forces against Section 22, like in El Tule and Etla. However, sometimes the gendarmes (a special paramilitary force within the National Police) picked the wrong target and local residents ran them out, as happened in Xoxocatlán. And in Technical High School No. 50 in Juchitán, the parents representative made a speech in the Zapotec indigenous language applauding the teachers and emphasizing that “we reject violence as well as the gendarmes, our school is not a barracks.”

Meanwhile, the ominous presence of the paramilitary police has irritated the population of the state capital: the police have cordoned off the Zócalo (the main square), infested the hotels and shopping centers and are carrying out intrusive patrols in all public places. In particular, the police have set up permanent posts at both ends of the block where the offices of Section 22 are located, so that they could seal off the street in a couple minutes in order to occupy the union headquarters. The implicit threat is lost on no one. They have created the feeling of a state of siege, recalling the days after the Federal Police and Army entered Oaxaca on 25 November 2006. An incident between residents and arrogant (or drunk) soldiers could occur at any moment.

The phenomenon of militarization is also being felt in the educational sphere. Not only are workers at the IEEPO now required to pass through a maze of metal barriers, but there will also be a permanent police presence inside the facilities. And as a leaflet that is circulating has denounced, the new executive-level officials of the Institute are full of cops. A deputy director who was previously the deputy state prosecutor in the administration of the hated governor Ulises Ruiz; the woman in charge of improving “student convivencia” who previously worked for state police agencies in Guanajuato and Oaxaca; the new administrative director who carried out similar functions in the state attorney general’s office and the state police of Oaxaca; and a number of others.

At the head of the “new IEEPO” is its director general, Moisés Robles Cruz, who also headed the “old IEEPO.” (In fact, as Hernández Navarro noted in La Jornada of 4 August, 9 of the 17 “new” executive-level officials were also cadres of the Instituto before it was restructured.) The new/old chief is an attorney specializing in penal law. He has had positions in the Oaxaca attorney general’s office, in the national interior ministry (Gobernación) and in the federal police. In other words, another cop. As for the requisite teaching experience or pedagogical research for a director general, he has none.

What Robles Cruz does have is a predilection for José Vasconcelos. In an op-ed piece published in El Universal (23 August), this lawyer-cop installed to carry out the Gleichschaltung1 of the Oaxaca State Institute of Public Education, whipping it into line with the policies and ideology of “neoliberal” capitalism, considers Vasconcelos to be a “visionary.” But what was his “vision”? From the second half of the 1930s on, the country’s first secretary of public education became one of the ideological promoters of Nazism in Mexico. Vazconcelos was the founder and editor of the Nazi fascist magazine Timón (the helm), and during the Second World War he was a collaborator of the German embassy in Mexico. He effusively praised Hitler and Mussolini, saying:

“All the peoples of the world have to thank Mussolini and Hitler for having changed the face of history. For having freed us from that sinister conspiracy that ever since the French Revolution had turned over world domination to empires that set out to reform religion and peddle the fraud of liberalism in politics.”
–quoted in Juan Alberto Cedillo, Los nazis en México (Random House Mondadori, 2007)

Vasconcelos’ racism was proverbial, expressed in his notion of a “cosmic race.” He made repulsive racist remarks about blacks, but also vehemently expressed his disdain for the Indian population. In this book El desastre (The Disaster), he wrote: “Everything binds us to Europe and separates us from the aborigine. Therefore, the most effective mechanism is that adopted by the Argentine people, who have decided to make Argentina an outpost of Europe. And to suppress everything of Indian origin.” (In Argentina there was a veritable genocide against the indigenous peoples.) He called to build “a European city” combined with “educational efforts to root European morality in the consciousness of the Indians,” in order to avoid destruction by “la indiada” (an indigenous tidal wave).

In educational questions, Vasconcelos was an ardent opponent of the New School movement inspired by John Dewey, Maria Montessori and other reformers. He insisted that education must consist of “externally imposed rules” and “all pedagogy is coercion.” A perfect “visionary” for the Oaxacan Gauleiter (Nazi district chief) charged with imposing the free market “educational reform” of decaying capitalism. A sworn enemy of teachers and students, for whom education by its very nature is a collective and collaborative effort.

Welcome to the new era of education under the military/police boot which seeks inspiration in the spokesman for native fascism. Our task: to put an end to the Götterdämerung (twilight of the gods) of capital and its policies of educational regimentation.

  1. 1. A reference to the regimentation of German society, and notably university education, under the Nazi fascist regime after Hitler’s takeover in 1933.