Friday, July 21, 2006

Oaxaca. Mexico: State requests "disaster area" declaration

The state of Oaxaca, Mexico has requested that the federal govenrment declare it a "disaster area" under rules usually reserved for victims of natural disasters. The state claims that the economic damage suffered so far from the teachers' strike has reached 900 million pesos, more than 80 million dollars.

The cancelation of the world famous Guelageutza Festival, downtown businesses, boutiques, shops, stores and hotels that have been sacked of their contents, infrastructure damage including the Gueleguetza amphitheater whose damage is estimated at about 4 million dollars, the closing of the airport on numerous occasions, damage to private property and the atmosphere of lawlessness that has forced even the Canadian embassy to release a travel advisory have all begun to get real expensive.

The teachers' union has been offered a package totaling 157 million pesos, a little more than 14.25 million dollars, and is expected to reject the offer. The union president said that one demand not addressed in the government's proposal was the resignation of the state's governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. The teachers have taken the position that they will not settle their strike and go home unless Ruiz Ortiz goes home also.

In a related and somewhat amusing note, a "citizens" group calling itself APPO which was formed to support the teachers and has participated in the economic havoc being wrought, has called upon private citizens to volunteer to repair the damaged amphitheater. Right.

I might note, in order that you can maintain some prespective here, that there are 70,000 members of the teachers' union. The 14.25 million dollar settlement offer means that each teacher would receive, in additional pay and benefits, some $200 over the next year. They teach for some 10 months. That's $20 per month, $5 per week, $1 per day -- roughly.

Oh, and they'll strike again next year. They've done it every year since 1980.

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