UFE Coordinating Committee & Stewards Council Vote to Support Oaxaca Teachers Union

The United Faculty of Evergreen (UFE) representing more than 250 faculty at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, joins its voice to that of other educational unions, organizations, students and civil society to denounce the violence and killings unleashed upon the teachers in Mexico.

We condemn the extreme violence that the Mexican State has used and continues to perpetuate against teachers in Mexico, most recently on June 19, 2016 in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca, who have been and continue to protest the all out privatization of education and the punitive education “reforms,” which have resulted until now in the deaths of at least nine people. We call on President Enrique Pena Nieto to immediately end the continued attacks, and to guarantee the human, civil, political and labor rights of teachers, education workers, as well as students and community members in Mexico who are exercising their political right to protest the privatization of their educational system.

Teachers, educational workers, students and supporting members of their families and communities have been subjected to extreme violations of these rights, including:

  • On Sunday, June 19, at least nine teachers and students protesting the government’s corporate education reform program were shot and killed in peaceful demonstrations in Oaxaca, and dozens more wounded, by Federal police.
  • The three top elected officers of Oaxaca’s teachers union, Section 22 of the National Coordination of Education Workers (Sección 22 de la Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación – CNTE) – Ruben Nuñez, Francisco Villalobos and Aciel Sibaja – have been illegally imprisoned in the Federal penitentiary a thousand miles from Oaxaca.
  • Over three thousand teachers have been fired for striking, and thousands more for refusing to administer standardized tests for students, or to take standardized tests for teachers, that are part of the Federal government’s education reform.
  • Mexico’s Secretary of Public Education, Aurelio Nuño Mayer, has threatened to close the teacher training schools (the “normal” schools) that have developed generations of teachers, especially from poor rural communities. An attack on the Ayotzinapa school in Guerrero two years ago led to the disappearance of 43 students, which still remain unaccounted for, and which no one has been brought to justice.

As educators, we are very concerned about the corporate direction of Mexico’s Federal education reform program, as we are about similar programs in the United States. We oppose the privatization of public education, and of the corporate-directed programs for standardized testing of students and teachers. We are especially opposed to the use of those tests as the instruments for mass firings, as has been suggested in both countries, and as a tool against education workers unionizing.

There is no possible excuse for imposing these reforms at gunpoint, for violently suppressing the rights of teachers to advocate for themselves and their students, and for firing and jailing teachers when they do so. We call for an immediate halt to the extensive support in money and training received by the Mexican police and military from the United States, given the use of such heavy arms and anti-personnel tactics in the recent killings in Oaxaca, and the illegal imprisonment of teacher union leaders. We ask Washington State’s Congressional delegation to hold hearings to investigate the recent events in Oaxaca, the case of the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa, and the grave violations of the rights of teachers, students and the broader community in Mexico.

We support the statement issued by the Civil Society of Oaxaca demanding that the government:

  • End the wrongful and disproportionate use of force and repression against the teachers who make use of their legitimate right to free expression and free protest.
  • Establish a round table for dialogue with the teachers of Oaxaca.
  • Provide medical attention for all persons injured as a result of the violent acts of the State.
  • Immediately and unconditionally release the political poisoners who have been arrested in an arbitrary and illegal manner and which include: Sara Altamirano Ramos, Mario Olivera Osorio, Lauro Atilano Grijalva Villalobos, Damián Gallardo Martínez y Leonel Manzano Sosa, Óscar Hernández Neri, Othón Nazariega Segura, Roberto Abel Jiménez García, Efraín Picazo Pérez, Juan Carlos Orozco Matus, Aciel Sibaja Mendoza, Heriberto Magariño López, Francisco Villalobos Ricárdez, Rubén Núñez Ginez, Rubén Sarabia Sánchez, Atl Sarabia Reyna, Xihuel Sarabia Reyna, and the 25 political prisoners of the FPR-Oaxaca (8 being held in CEFERESO in Mengolí, Miahuatlán, and 17 in CERESO in Etla, Oaxaca)
  • An immediate stop of the repression against the Union of Guerrero State Public Service Workers (Sindicato Único de Servidores Públicos del Estado de Guerrero – SUSPEG).
  • Complete Support and protection of the Political Commission of Section 22 of the National Coordination of Education Workers (Sección 22 de la Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación – CNTE), collective leadership of the Democratic Movement of Education Workers in Oaxaca.
  • Bring to justice all persons responsible for the arbitrary detentions, torture and violations of Human Rights against members of the teachers’ union of Oaxaca, CNTE, students and community members.

On September 1, the UFE Coordination Committee and Stewards Council, with a majority vote, supports this resolution.

Special thanks to the UFE Solidarity Committee: Peter Bohmer, Savvina Chowdhury, Michael Vavrus, UFE faculty; Carlos Marentes, visiting TESC faculty member.

En solidaridad,

Grace Huerta, UFE Chair