Teachers and students took part in protests on Monday and Tuesday of this week, demanding to know the whereabouts of 43 student teachers who were abducted by armed police on September 26th.
The protesters who were joined by relatives of the missing, blocked the capital buildings in Chilpancingo, capital of Guerrero province, where the abduction took place. Yesterday there was a mass protest march in the city which, unlike the protest the night before, was silent as candles were lit and white flowers handed out to passers by. Meanwhile over the last few days, protests have taken place all over Mexico demanding the return of the students.
As we reported earlier, the students were attacked by armed police after their buses were pulled over when they were on their way to collect funds for their teacher training colleges. Six students were killed at the time and seventeen injured. The bodies of those killed showed signs of torture.
The teacher training colleges in Mexico, the so-called ‘esceuelas normales’ have a long history of promoting critical and culturally sensitive education in opposition to the World Bank style reforms which the government are attempting to force on teachers and schools. The students in these colleges come from predominantly small farmer and low income backgrounds. The video clip above shows the level of global awareness and critical thought which comes out of such colleges.
In an important article, Lois Weiner points out the connection between the attack on these young student teachers and a just published World Bank report which blames teachers and their unions for what it characterises as the lamentable state of education in Latin America. As she puts it: ‘For governments ready and eager to rule with an iron hand, the report provides a license to kill’. The probable fate of our young Mexican colleagues provides a demonstration of the kinds of terror tactics which will be used to enforce the World Bank’s vision of education – one dedicated to the creation of a globalised human capital, where indigenous cultures and languages are not wanted and even less the kind of critical thinking promoted by the escuelas normales.
According to the website of Education International (EI), both of the two main US teaching unions have condemned the attacks on the students and this is welcome. Now EI should organise a global campaign of protest, just as they have in Colombia, because as Dr Weiner points out: ‘If we do not mobilize international pressure, the Mexico massacre may be the first of other violent attacks on teachers in Latin America fighting for public education and democracy.’
Video about the history of teachers’ struggles
For over 20 years, global economic forces have been dismantling public education in Mexico, but always in the constant shadow of popular resistance…
Granito de arena is the story of that resistance — the story of hundreds of thousands of public schoolteachers whose grassroots, non-violent movement took Mexico by surprise, and who have endured brutal repression in their 25-year struggle for social and economic justice in Mexico’s public schools. A sixty-minute documentary, Granito de Arena places the Mexican teachers’ struggle in a global context, clearly spelling out the relationship between economic globalization and the worldwide public education crisis.
Award-winning Seattle filmmaker, Jill Freidberg (This is What Democracy Looks Like, 2000), spent two years in southern Mexico documenting the efforts of over 100,000 teachers, parents, and students fighting to defend the country’s public education system from the devastating impacts of economic globalization. Freidberg combines footage of strikes and direct actions with 25 years worth of never-before-seen archival images to deliver a compelling and unsettling story of resistance, repression, commitment, and solidarity.
Featuring: Eduardo Galeano and Maude Barlow
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.