Three hundred thousand marched into Oaxaca, Mexico on 16 June, to support striking teachers whose encampment was brutally attacked by police two days earlier. Led by Section 22 of the SNTE teachers union, the march was supported by university students, local health and university workers and numerous other union, popular and left wing organisations.
The demonstrators demanded the resignation of state governor Ulises Ruiz Ortíz of the right-wing Institutional Revolutionary Party, widely accused of corruption.
On 14 June 20 teachers were arrested, and eight “disappeared” after a police attack. According to the union two teachers and two children were killed. Between 30 and 100 were wounded from both teacher and police sides of the fight.
Teachers built an encampment as part of a six-week old strike. They are demanding equal pay throughout the state (which is divided into three salary zones based on the supposed cost of living), an increase in student grants, decent schools, classroom supplies, and government funding for uniforms.
After negotiations the state government released 10 teachers arrested during the crackdown and suspended the arrest orders on 25 leading union activists. Negotiations on the teachers pay and other demands are continuing.
The attack on the Oaxaca teachers is the latest in a series of brutal actions by paramilitary police against striking copper miners, residents of Atenco and communities in Isla Mujeres that are trying to prevent their island becoming a rubbish dump for the trash from Cancun. Two were killed in Atenco and two copper miners also died.
These attacks are widely seen as trying to create a “strategy of tension” — a climate of fear aimed at discrediting the Zapatistas’ “Other campaign” and ensuring a right-wing victory in the 2 July presidential election.
• Abridged from International Viewpoint: