Nochixtlán: Killing Teachers, Imposing Neoliberal Reforms

By Victor Toledo
La Jornada

Describing the battle of Nochixtlán, because it was not a war between two armies but one between the armed forces and citizens of three indigenous populations protesting for community dignity, is a movie that has been repeated tens or hundreds of times locally, from Atenco [indigenous community in the State of Mexico where protesters were repressed in 2006] to Cherán [indigenous community in Michoacán that took control of its own security in 2011] and many times throughout the Oaxacan community. This time, however, the communities’ endless struggle against the repression that is focused and has to dissolve, be controlled and eventually be forgotten, will have to be projected not only nationally, but will also have international implications. It is a bigger grievance than what comes from join together Ayotzinapa, Tlatlaya, Apatzingan, etc., and bares the regime again. It is unacceptable, it is impermissible, that in the name of education reform, a regime restrains, arrests, and kills teachers. It is unjustifiable. It reaches a peak of absurdity. The world will be astonished when it discovers that in improving education (which is basically according to the European standards of the OCDE [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] to be “perfect citizens”), non-compliant teachers were killed.

In any civilized country, this disgusting act would demand that top leaders resign, including the President.

“Are we like in 1968?” a student in one of my workshops asked me with a naïve expression, and I did not know how to respond. Perhaps the answer is twofold; yes and no. The similarity between Díaz Ordaz’s regime [President, 1964-70. In 1968 the Tlatelolco Massacre of protesting students occurred.] and Peña Nieto’s is isolation, arrogance, a heavy hand, use of all means of power to impose decisions. Mexico lives under a disguised dictatorship again. Now, it’s not only the young people, but teachers too.

And yet, one of the many differences is that now all of the connections and resources that drive this regime to take such actions are known. Today we know that the problem is the enormous corruption of the political regime and its collusion with the powerful economic elite both nationally and globally. What they want to impose is a world where parasites prosper from human labor and predators from the natural environment. A neoliberal paradise needs control of the territories and their inhabitants, and currently the greatest resistance is essentially cultural. Indigenous peoples and communities are the largest suppliers of rebellious teachers.

It is no coincidence that in these times, the greatest protest demonstrations have been staged in states with large indigenous population: Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacán, and Veracruz. Normal school [teachers college] and technological college students come largely from the indigenous communities and their communal style of life. In these universes, outside the urban and industrial realm, solidarity and cooperation continue to rule social life, and the bonds that connect teachers with families and families with the “spirit of the beehive” remain.

The almost heroic resistance of the dissident teachers cannot be isolated. Oaxaca was an example 10 years ago [during similar protests that were repressed with State violence] and today that protest is connected with the battles defending the severely besieged territories in much of the country from the depredation projects of mining, oil, and biotechnology corporations and projects for highways, tourism, and water. The teachers’ struggle also shows in good measure the situation among laborers, workers and employees in Mexico, who receive one of the lowest wages in the world. It is all coming together into a single resistance, like in the final moves of a chess game. And it is the neoliberal dream, a global nightmare, that must be stopped.

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