Mexican teachers’ union organizes United National Front to challenge neoliberal policies

The call for a new platform comes amid a strike by the educators since June 4, and has been welcomed by a host of organizations

Zoe PC / The Dawn News / June 11, 2018

On June 12, the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) marched with other people’s movements against the oligarchic Mexican government with the purpose of stopping neoliberalism and defending the dignity of both the Mexican teachers and people. They are capitalizing on the momentum and energy from their ongoing strike that began on June 4 to bring together groups from diverse sectors to organize a United National Front – a platform for an alternative vision for Mexico beyond the electoral dispute, and to confront the deep crisis of violence and inequality.

“Mexico is going through a situation of neocolonial occupation which has to be combated on all fronts; corruption, violence, anti-democracy and social crisis have become permanent factors of the neoliberal policies that will lead to the dismantling of the nation,” stated the social-political organization Nuevo País in a statement about the new platform.

They wrote: “The call that the CNTE has made for a national strike has seen the mobilization of contingents across the country. It is a living example of the fact that only from the social movements and the civilian non-violent resistance can a new political-social subject be built that is capable of altering the direction of the country, away from that of the oligarchy and the corrupt political party-democracy subordinated to imperialism.”

At the end of the mobilization on June 12, an announcement was made regarding the official launch of the United National Front that will take place on June 24.

Since June 4, the CNTE has been mobilizing on the streets of Mexico City in a national strike in which its members from across the country are taking part. On June 4, the protesters set up a camp in front of the Secretariat of the Interior. Their key demands were direct negotiations with the Secretariat of the Interior, the immediate withdrawal of education reform and other neoliberal measures passed by Enrique Peña Nieto’s government, and the reinstatement of 586 fellow teachers who were laid off when they refused to carry out evaluation tests.

The contingent from Michoacán, led by Víctor Manuel Zavala Hurtado, the general secretary of section 18, arrived near the Cobían Palace,. In a press conference, he said “we didn’t come to deliver any document, but we came to get an answer to our demands, because if the federal government believes that it no longer has to give an answer to the dissident teachers, we say that the government is totally mistaken. It is the government’s obligation to attend the demands of its people till the last minute of its governance”.

The protests were met with heavy-handed state repression. On June 4th, as the CNTE contingents from other states arrived at Mexico City, the police attempted to block their entry. The repression continued throughout the week and several protesters ended up with serious injuries.

The CNTE has been continuously mounting pressure on the government in support of their demands. They have organized 48-hour and 72-hour work stoppages, held State-wide assemblies and mobilized their members to strengthen resistance to education reform and in general, to the neoliberal program of Peña Nieto. For instance, the CNTE was one of the key actors in the mobilization against the Gazolinazo protests which occurred after a sharp hike in fuel prices in 2017. With this latest effort, they seek to channelize the diverse expressions of struggle against the neoliberal policies and corrupt government to build a people’s resistance.