By Scott Campbell, Photos by Santiago Navarro F
In the waning minutes of June 11, federal police, the federal gendarmarie, and state police carried out a violent raid against striking teachers blockading the Oaxaca State Institute of Public Education (IEEPO). The attack comes almost ten years to the day when a similar state attack on striking teachers on June 14, 2006, led to a five-month, statewide rebellion.
Teachers in Mexico have been on strike since May 15, demanding, among other things, an end to the neoliberal educational reforms being pushed forward by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. For a roundup of events during the first 15 days of the strike, see the most recent Insumisión column.
While things have been tense in Oaxaca, with Governor Gabino Cué announcing that he had hundreds of police ready to remove any teachers encampment or blockade, there have been no big confrontations until tonight. This is likely due to the fact that the state held elections on June 5 and did not want to take any action prior to that which might interfere. Then earlier on Saturday, federal police arrested Francisco Villalobos, the Organization Secretary of Section 22, the Oaxacan branch of the National Coordinating Body of Education Workers (CNTE). He is being charged with aggravated robbery for allegedly stealing free schoolbooks in 2015.
In response, teachers set up blockades at major intersections throughout the city of Oaxaca and elsewhere in the state. Then came the raid on the teachers’ position at the IEEPO. At the same time, electricity was cut in the Zócalo, the city’s main square, where the teachers also have an encampment.
In response, teachers and civil society began building barricades blocking off access to the Zócalo, communicating information using the union’s radio station, Radio Plantón.
Via Facebook, a compa from Oaxaca shared with me that “30 police trucks are headed to the Zócalo…On the edge of the city there are five buses full of riot police and more police trucks. The city center is under siege.” Another communicated that all up and down Independencia Ave there are shoes, belongings and trash scattered about, indicating that several people have been arrested.
At around 2:30am Oaxaca time, it was announced that the Secretary General of Section 22, Rubén Núñez, was arrested on the border between Mexico City and the State of Mexico. The top two officials of Section 22 are now in state custody.
At the time of this writing, 3:30am in Oaxaca, Radio Plantón is reporting that military planes are now arriving in Oaxaca. They predict intense confrontations in the coming days. We will do our best to keep this page updated.