Thursday, February 22, 2007

Oaxaca, Mexico: teachers fighting over the schools, fishermen fighting over the fish, SNAFU

Another normal day passes in Oaxaca. 7000 teachers (according to their numbers, I've yet to see even one) are supposedly camped out in front of various state offices throughout the city, demanding . . . more. What they really want are the 250 schools supposedly still under the control of parents and local politicians who won't let members of the striking Sección 22 back in. What they really, really want are the 2000 schools and 20 alternate teaching sites manned by members of the rival (and non-striking) Sección 59.

The government, now pretty much cowed by the teachers (Sección 22) and wary of another explosion such as occurred from last May through November 25, has managed to wrest 77 of the schools away from the parents and municipal leaders who don't want Sección 22 to return. That leaves about 173 by my count, 198 by Reforma's count, still in the hands of those other than Sección 22 or Sección 59. For its part, the newly formed Sección 59 just wants to hang on to what its got. This group of teachers has not been making any noise about taking over any more schools. They probably should have.

Their leader, Erika Rapp Soto, is now accusing the state government of being so frightened of Sección 22 that it has sent out "brigades", consisting of 2 employess of the state education commission and 2 from the state secretary of state's office. They are, according to Rapp Soto, driving around from occupied school to occupied school, telling the teachers and the parents that their Sección 22-less schools will not be accredited so their kids cannot graduate.

Rapp Soto says this is illegal, but it works. She says the government has managed to get 77 schools freed by the frightened parents so that the lazy, good-for-nothing members of Sección 22, along with their bought and paid for fake diplomas, can re-enter the schools.

Rapp Soto says that the Sección 22 leadership is doing its own dirty work also. She charges that teachers and administrators are withholding records and accreditations for students that willfully attend any school staffed by Sección 59 members.

So, we're back almost to where we started back in May, 2006; teachers camped out in the streets. The question remains, will we end up back where we ended up on November 25, 2006; with war in the streets?

Leaving the blissful environs of the state's classrooms behind, we move on to the tuna war. The fishing fleet out of Puerto Angel arrived back in port yesterday and began unloading wounded fishermen -- 15 in all. They had been shot by members of the "northern tuna fleet." According to boat captains, the Puerto Angel fleet had been having problems for some time with the northern fleet encroaching on their fishing territory.

Yesterday, they ran into about 20 boats from the northern fleet. According to Gener Pineda Cervantes, president of the Oaxaca Fishermen's association, they tried to signal their intentions to hold a meeting to discuss the intrusion by the northern fleet into Oaxaca territory. It was then they were attacked.

Pineda Cervantes says he's taking this fight to Greepeace. "There are dead turtles and bottlenosed dolphins. They are killing off some species like the bonito and salmon, species they are not supposed to catch. They are leaving us with nothing.

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