Mexico has a lot more to be fearful of than its rural educators and those rural young people who try to make the best of things and both learn and fight to make a just society where students do not have to fight over bones with other students. However, to capitalists, naturally when a poor Latin American country is being destroyed by the capitalist drug war, after being weakened to the point of desperation by capitalist neoliberalism, after being exploited for nearly two centuries by the big neighbor to the north for purposes of capital accumulation, it is time to start changing the subject. Because, after all, Mexico’s problems, as we all know, emanate from the failure of its public school system. That darn Mexican public school system is slow to emulate the wise and knowing educational plans cooked up in conservative Washington think tanks to distract U.S. residents from their own systemic problems, which, among other things, create massive amounts of insecurity and stress which drive demand for legal and illegal hard drugs among U.S. residents, which provides the irrational rationale for the never ending, never succeeding drug war.
Capitalists are so darn smart, handsome, cuddly, and good (except when they get to murderin’ and such) that the Washington Consensus keeps rearing its dapper head–even if it means Mexican teenagers must now lose theirs, and faces too, after standing in solidarity with poor teachers who stand in solidarity with Mexico’s poor. But first, the U.S. Presidential Campaign of 1848 in a nutshell:
◾ Henry Clay, frustrated by Taylor’s popularity as Old “Rough and Ready,” the war hero of Buena Vista, sighed: “I wish I could slay a Mexican.” Don’t sell yourself short dear Henry dear Henry. The U.S. is the gift that keeps on giving–Freeeeeeeedom!
Ah yes, who can forget the son of Freeeeeeeedom, Zachary Taylor, Rumadum Dum? “He’s the boy can skin and beat ’em. … Everybody!” Sounds vaguely familiar, if you are the parent of a missing Mexican college student.
And who can forget the need for the accumulation of U.S. capital (why did Rosa Luxemburg have to go and talk about that?) in our neighbor to the south (which led to all that debt, which led to the Washington Consensus to get debtor nations out of debt so they can incur more debt), which led to resentment by Mexican landed gentry and capitalists, so that, to this day, the Mexican people totter between exploitation by foreign and domestic capitalists–when they are not dodging bullets, heh heh.
I digress (or do I?):
◾”Crisis in Mexico: Could Forty-Three Missing Students Spark a Revolution?” Well, yes, they could. But let’s consider the dry kindling to which the spark has been applied, shall we?
We in the U.S. “know” all about the drug violence. Hell, we know a lot about Mexico. We “know” about the dirty water, heh heh.
Little known in the U.S. is that some Mexican teachers want SYSTEM CHANGE and are paying for it with their careers and even their lives.
“Those thousands of teachers you see blocking the streets of the City have the courage millions of workers in other industries have not had in recent years.”
Mexico City August 30, 2013.
L, the logo of the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), the leftist teachers’ group working in Mexico’s poor southern states which is the radical offshoot of the sell-out Mexican teachers’ union, SNTE:
Radical teachers’ syndicate returns to Mexico City streets
School strike in Oaxaca, Chiapas enters sixth week, as far left union continues disrupting the capital …
SNTE demands firing of CNTE teachers
In a related development today the president of another educators’ union, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE), called for all CNTE strikers to be fired immediately in accord with the just enacted reforms. The new laws provide that any school teacher who fails to show up in the classroom for three consecutive days will be automatically terminated. In Oaxaca state alone 74,000 CNTE teachers have not worked a single day since the new school year opened on Aug. 19, but none have been dismissed. SNTE staged its own work stoppage in Yucatán in early September, but members very responsibly returned to the classroom a week later after reaching an agreement with the PRI state government. “There are thousands of teachers looking for work who would love to fill those spots so children can return to classrooms,” SNTE’s president noted in a public appeal.
CNTE is a splinter group that broke off from SNTE in 1979. Since then union leaders have taken the membership down an increasingly radical political course, often far removed from educational issues.
So reported the conservative Mexico GulfReporter.com over a year ago (http://www.mexicogulfreporter.com/2013/10/radical-teacher-syndicate-returns-to.html)
CNTE provided not only a courageous voice on the streets but also a detailed and thoughtful analysis (Note: the analysis [http://www.rebelion.org/docs/171157.pdf] is 218 pages long, so don’t open it if you are in a hurry and don’t read Spanish or wish to use a Translator) of neoliberal educational reforms implemented as part of Mexico’s implementation of the Washington Consensus. And it was a lesson the students of Ayotzinapa learned. The “background” for the students’ own protests and resulting kidnapping was the earlier, and continuing, protesting by the CNTE, joined in solidarity by the sympathetic students.
In an especially chilling twist, the violence seems to have been partly set in motion by the students’ plans to travel to the capital for the commemoration of modern Mexico’s most notorious incident of political violence: the Tlatelolco massacre of Oct 2, 1968.
The Tlatelolco slayings took place 10 days before the opening of the Olympic games in Mexico City. After days of anti-government demonstrations, police and soldiers opened fire on a group of protesters, killing dozens or possibly hundreds. The massacre has been a rallying cry for rights activists and student radicals ever since.
In Iguala, a group of 80 to 120 students from the local teaching college gathered Sept 26 to demonstrate against education reforms and to raise money for their trip to Mexico City.
At the end of the day, they allegedly forced their way onto three buses. It’s unclear if they intended to commandeer them for a trip back their college or all the way to Mexico City.
Could capitalist divide and rule be backfiring in Mexico? Is this marching, so solemn and sad, part of the march to real “freedom,” not U.S.-mandated freedom to be hungry and hopeless at home or invisible and hated on the streets of the U.S.? Where oh where are our leftist divisions in a potentially-revolutionary time like this? Can “WE” finally start sharing our hard-won quasi-jurisdictions and terms of art? E.g., dirt poor Trotskyite teachers, “of all people,” sending of what little they have to provide anarchist-like “mutual aid” to the suffering families of Ayotzinapa, as Zapatistas also now overtly struggle with their non-agrarian comrades.
The mass crime of the 43 missing students and related murders of students may, in its enormity, reinforce efforts to unite the serious Mexican left, something which has not been achieved for much of Mexico’s post-Spanish-independence history. Tragically, over a hundred years ago, agrarian anarcho-communist ancestors of the present-day Zapatistas were rebuffed partly because they did not fully understand factory worker demands but also because many urban anarcho-syndicalists would not accept the Catholic religious traditions of their rural comrades. (For an excellent review of Mexican revolutionary history, focused on 1870-1920, see http://www.selfed.org.uk/node/2850.)
Meanwhile, “I” search for the clicker, and I like think, in between doses of my favorite mind-numbing substance:
What? Mexico is too far away from Nowheresville for me to give a damn (except when it is invading our sacred border, now at the Rio Grande, with Ebola-carrying brown people). Who is Trotsky anyway? Zapatistas? And “anarchy” sounds bad, almost, uh, “Mexicany.” What the hell is “mutual aid”? I got your mutual aid right here. Get me my AR-quince!
“I” may be about to learn a lot more about Mexico and revolution south of the border.
Please go below for a brief caveat from this writer sitting comfortably numb north of the border, far even from Mom’s Opa-Locka, finally trying not to be another brick in the wall.
My two-part caveat is that:
1. on the one hand, unlike the Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, who created the brilliant but haunting ¡Que viva México!, I am not in Mexico even pretending to learn first hand about the matters of which I write. Thus, for me, the dangers of stereotyping or miscasting my own narrative upon others are even higher. This is not my story I am trying to tell.
But I write anyway. The capitalists would like us not to acknowledge our solidarity across borders, and I reject that limitation. The families of the 43 missing students are my family too now, but so also are the families of the brave members of the CNTE, the Zapatistas, and millions of other brave Mexicans who are “just saying no” to their corrupt capitalist thugocracy. It does not matter if the person slicing off your child’s face is a government police criminal or a criminal criminal, they are all working for the same oppressive and unjust neoliberal state of affairs.
2. on the other hand, like Duncan Bridgeman, the British filmmaker who recently created the brilliant but generally less jarring Hecho en México, I can be mesmerized by Mexico’s often pained artistic beauty into forgetting that Mexicans are on more than a spiritual journey of self-creation–they are on a treadmill of neoliberal exploitation culminating in mass government-induced drug violence, and that government is ours.
So I write anyway. You and I can unite with our Mexican sisters and brothers in the universal work of kindness. We will not kill the goons with kindness, but we can work to make a kind world for all, which means we must get to the root cause of the goons and Mexico’s anguish, which is capitalism. Lo siento.