||Volume 19, Number 4, January/February 2007
The weekend before we all left for our much-needed winter break, I flew to Mexico City to participate in an international initiative to provide some support to our teaching colleagues in the province of Oaxaca, Mexico. You may have read newspaper articles citing the provocative actions of the province’s governor—actions that have led to many deaths, including the loss of some teachers. All this was prompted by a teacher strike that quickly gained popular momentum and public support. Before long, the broadened teacher strike gave rise to widespread dissent with the actions of the governor, whose very election was challenged as fraudulent.
I travelled to Mexico with leaders from Quebec and several Central and South American teacher unions. Our express purpose was to draw public attention to what was going on in Oaxaca and to attempt to convince the Mexican government that it should stop aiding the provincial police in their attacks on teachers and other protestors. When we subsequently travelled to Oaxaca we found the entire province in a state of utter quiet and fear.
Another purpose of our visit was to let the federal government know that Mexico is gaining an international "black eye" through the actions of its Oaxaca governor. If there is no resolution to the repression in Oaxaca, I and other Canadian delegates to the Tri-annual Congress of Education International in Berlin this July, intend to take a resolution forward condemning the Mexican government for its inaction. Education International represents 29 million teachers worldwide.
Interestingly, these same Oaxaca teachers supported us in October of 2005 when we were out on our "illegal" job action for two weeks. They demonstrated at the Canadian consulate trying to pressure our government to address the needs we had identified in our strike. Local, provincial, national, and international solidarity is a key component of teacher unionism.
For more information on Oaxaca, see my article on page 10 of this issue.