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:
- The first two weeks of the teachers strike (May 15-30)
- The beginning of the repression in Oaxaca (June 11-14)
- What the teachers are protesting (from 2013, but the same issues remain)
- State violence as governance in Mexico
— Regeneración Radio (@regeneracion_r) June 20, 2016
— ?ynd?cal??? (@syndicalisms) June 19, 2016
— Nas lutas (@PersonalEscrito) June 19, 2016
After four hours of clashes, the police broke through the blockade in Nochixtlán. The highway blockade had been in place since June 12, and was successful in preventing hundreds of federal police from entering the city of Oaxaca. Here’s a video of the epic police traffic jam created by the blockade.
State and federal police also attacked the blockade at Hacienda Blanca. There was a livestreamer on the scene using Periscope. Police fired tear gas from the ground and helicopters, including into the school that had been converted into a medical center. Armed police in civilian clothes were also taking up positions.
— Proyecto Ambulante (@proamboax) June 19, 2016
— Avispa Midia (@Avispa_Midia) June 19, 2016
Hacienda Blanca was another blockade preventing federal forces from entering the city of Oaxaca. On June 15, a bus filled with riot gear tried to drive through the blockade and the people guarding it. The bus was stopped and the riot gear removed and set on fire.
— Scott Campbell (@incandesceinto) June 15, 2016
The expectation is that upon breaking the highway blockades ringing the city of Oaxaca, federal forces will carry out an assault on the city in the coming hours, as they have already entered parts of the outlying neighborhoods of the city. Blocked from reaching the city by land, for days now the federal police have been flying planes full of cops into airports in Oaxaca city, Huatulco (on the coast) and Ciudad Ixtepec (in the Isthmus). There are numerous reports of power cuts in many areas of the city, as well as a curfew being imposed. Public transit has been suspended and will be tomorrow as well.
— Compa Liliana (@Loe_25sept) June 16, 2016
Servicio de transporte ya ha suspendido suspendido en la ciudad de #Oaxaca, mañana seguirá así
— Proyecto Ambulante (@proamboax) June 20, 2016
For the past week, as the people of Oaxaca responded to the latest police attack and commemorated ten years since the June 14, 2006 uprising that led to the five-month long Oaxaca Commune, dozens of blockades and barricades have been constructed around the state. In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec alone, the teachers union (CNTE) reports controlling 37 major highway intersections, of which the police have removed eight. As police rain tear gas down from helicopters, protesters have responded by shooting fireworks at the attackers.
— Proyecto Ambulante (@proamboax) June 18, 2016
— Proyecto Ambulante (@proamboax) June 14, 2016
— Oaxaca Libre (@oaxacalibre) June 14, 2016
To protest the attacks in Oaxaca, thousands marched on Televisa (the major private, pro-government TV channel in Mexico) and throughout the week, thousands of teachers have been arriving from Chiapas, Michoacán and elsewhere to reinforce the encampment in the capital.
— radiozapote (@radiozapote) June 19, 2016
— Desinformémonos (@Desinformemonos) June 16, 2016
A march on Friday, June 17 in Mexico City was met with an extreme display of police force.
— Desinformémonos (@Desinformemonos) June 17, 2016
We will try to continue to provide updates as we are able as well as on Twitter. Please spread the word from wherever you are – let those resisting know you stand in solidarity with their struggle. And let those doing the oppressing, primarily President Enrique Peña Nieto, and Governor Gabino Cué of Oaxaca, know that people are watching.
Resistance Extends Throughout Oaxaca Against Education Reform
By Avispa Midia
El Enemigo Común
“Welcome to Oaxaca” says a metal plate at the entrance to this city. A city worth knowing, with a great gastronomic and cultural diversity, colors, sounds and tastes. One of the states of Mexico with the most diversity in native languages, one of the richest in natural diversity, but also the 3rd poorest state in Mexico, according to statistics of the National Council for Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL). Although, truth be told, there have always been two Oaxacas, the profound and everyday Oaxaca, and the one sold in advertising- a made-up Oaxaca offered to a wealthy sector. Today, an intense day of demonstrations throughout the entire state, the legend “Welcome to Oaxaca” was a welcome for the federal police sent by the federal government to establish peace and order in this federal entity and “to apply the Education Reform with military methods,” says the housewife, Jazmín López, who has joined the reception.
In this entry to Oaxaca for those coming from Mexico City, known as la Hacienda Blanca, (White House), teachers and residents of the surrounding settlements blocked the access and detained hundreds of trucks carrying luxury cars, goods for commercial centers, building materials and machinery. They only allowed civilian vehicles to pass.
The same reception was given in each of the four corners of Oaxaca. For example, in the Isthmus de Tehuantepec, 8 hours away from the city of Oaxaca, at least three large barricades were erected to prevent access to the elements of the Gendarmería, a partnership created for the fight against drug trafficking.
The federal police arrived by air along the Pacific coast and with the use of tear gas, immediately tried to deter the barricades in Tehuantepec, Jalapa del Marqués and Tequisistlán, all located in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region. However, the operation failed. Section 22 teachers and villagers regrouped to reinforce the resistance. At the end of the day, they added at least 9 barricades in this region. “The Istmo is a land of warriors and police will have to wage a fierce struggle if they want to get in,” Professor Demetrio Bautista said.
Unable to enter land due to the strong resistance and barricades set up in the state capital Oaxaca as well as in Istmo, the federal police have chosen to use helicopters and airplanes. This June 16th, at least three federal police aircraft landed at the “Benito Juarez” International Airport of Oaxaca, located in Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán. They carried about 500 armed federal agents.
Meanwhile, the encampment in the historic center of this city has been maintained since May 15 and the blockade of the Freeway 190 in the district of Nochixtlan (which links Mexico City to Oaxaca), completes its fourth day today. The same is true of the one set up by the people of San Andrés Chicahuaxtla in the district of Putla de Guerrero, Oaxaca, as well as those in the communities in the Southern Highlands and la Cañada, where the barricades are still in effect.
The blockade at Hacienda Blanca is expected to be maintained until Friday, June 17. It’s a symbolic place where on Wednesday, June 15, riot equipment from the federal police was burned. Preparations are also underway for a massive mobilization in Mexico City on Friday, where more than 100,000 teachers are expected to join in.
The teachers are still demanding the release of their thirteen imprisoned comrades and the suspension of dozens of arrest warrants, but above all, the total rejection of the so-called “Education Reform”.
Radio Plantón, frequency 92.1, has become critical to this resistance, because it’s a way to publicize the activities carried out in the 7 regions of this state.
It is a means of communication triangulated with several community radio stations and with free and independent media platforms on the Internet, but with a constant warning that the State will pull its signal, as has happened before. At the same time the mass media maintains a media war to criminalize teachers. A huge demonstration on June 14, for example, was not covered by mass media even though at least 90,000 education workers, parents and organizations were mobilized.
This radio frequency has also given those against this resistance the opportunity to speak, but they are immediately turned off with dozens of calls from parents in support of the struggle of their childrens’ teachers.