Thursday, June 30, 2016

Teachers Struggle for Justice in Oaxaca

Mexico's Classroom Wars

A.S. Dillingham and René González Pizarro
Friday, June 24, 2016

Ten years ago, as a group of striking teachers slept in their encampment during the early hours of June 14 in the state capital of Oaxaca, Mexico, government forces launched an attack to remove them from thezócalo, or town square. Riot police cleared the plaza while helicopters dropped tear gas from above.
The striking teachers were beaten, arrested, and pushed out of the city center. But not for long; the teachers and their supporters quickly regrouped, fighting back, block by block, and took the plaza back by midday.
The violent repression of striking teachers in 2006, ordered by the state governor, launched a social movement — called the “Oaxaca Commune” by supporters — that grew to encompass much more than the local teachers’ union.
The movement [1] mobilized large swathes of Oaxacan society against the repressive governor. Aggressive federal intervention hobbled the movement, but failed to wipe it out. Today the dissident teachers’ movement is in the streets again, this time in opposition to the federal government’s “education reform” program.
The teacher’s movement is also more widespread than in 2006. Militarized attacks on striking teachers have occurred in Mexico City and throughout the country’s southern states. In the last month, the state of Chiapas has seen pitched battles between teachers and police forces, and the Zapatistas [2] have spoken out in favor of the striking teachers.
Last week the Mexican attorney general’s office arrested two of the leaders [3] of the Oaxacan section of the teachers’ union, Local 22, on corruption charges. Then on June 19, federal and state police attacked protesters [4] in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca, a town on the highway between the state capital and Mexico City, resulting in the death of at least eight protesters.
The blatant attack on outspoken government opponents unleashed a wave of protests in the state capital in response.

2006-2016. Street graffiti in Oaxaca City, commemorating the ongoing teachers' struggle.
Shane Dillingham / Jacobin

It’s become somewhat of a cliché to describe the situation in Mexico as a “crisis.” Indeed, la crisis is frequently satirized in Mexican film[5] and popular culture [6], with Mexicans unsure when the last crisis ended and the next began.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

We Cannot Have a Presidential Candidate Who Insults Mexicans and Latinos, women, African Americans, and Muslims.

Trump’s Racially Divisive Politics Must Be Exposed and Opposed !

The intolerant campaign  promoted by Donald Trump and supported  by the Republican Party is a call to the “silent white majority” and a demand that 11 million immigrants be deported.  This campaign promotes a dangerous and divisive racial message.  It must be vigorously opposed.

 Donald Trump is a serial liar, he  regularly incites political violence and he  is a  rampant xenophoberacist, and  misogynist.  He has repeatedly  pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S. He promises to build a wall on the border that would cost at least $35 billion to build, and billions each year to maintain.  And, it would not work.
Trump has an overly simplistic view of immigration: calling for  building  walls, breaking up families,  and deporting  people.  This fear mongering political message has found a very receptive base within our society among xenophobic and angry conservative older voters.

This campaign is dangerous.  It mobilizes right-wing  anti immigrant forces. Trump’s campaign is not just racism- it is a strategy to magnify racism to win the election – and we must defeat it.

We know these campaigns to be dangerous. He is promoting an anti Mexican, anti immigrant, anti Muslim agenda. This is more than the ranting of a fringe right. He is mainstreaming racism.

Friday, June 24, 2016

LULAC Responds to the Supreme Court Failure to Act

June 23, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today in U.S v. Texas, an equally divided U.S. Supreme Court left in place an appeals court ruling blocking the implementation of President Obama’s expanded executive action programs that would have granted over 4 million people work authorization and temporary relief from deportation. The President’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) would have extended protections to parents with U.S.-born children who met certain requirements. In addition, the split decision today leaves in place the lower court's stay of the expansion of the President’s other program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which protects certain undocumented youth who came to the United States as children from deportation. However, the original DACA announced 4 years ago remains in effect. 

“Today’s decision marks a significant setback for more than 4 million undocumented immigrants in this country,” said LULAC National President Roger C. Rocha, Jr. “The hope had been that those individuals would be able to come out of the shadows and legally contribute to the United States with three year work permits. While today’s split decision does not impact the original 2012 DACA program, the injunction on expanded DACA and DAPA remains in effect, and the lives of millions of immigrants will continue to be in limbo. The United States must move forward and value the contributions of those who follow the rules and provide for their families. We cannot continue to tear families apart by deporting individuals whose only wish is to provide for their families." 

While today’s U.S. Supreme Court split decision allows the injunction to remain, LULAC will not be deterred in its efforts to provide justice to these individuals. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Supreme Court did not act- But we can vote !

Important poll on Latinas views on Trump, immigration, education and more. Our task- register all.

President Obama on the Supreme Court's Ruling on Immigration

No change for current dreamers !

Republican Campaign Blocks DACA at the Supreme Court

Supreme Court unable to block the Republican campaign to tear apart Mexican families. - DACA.
New York Times.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday announced that it had deadlocked in a case challenging President Obama’s immigration plan, a sharp blow to an ambitious program that Mr. Obama had hoped would become one of his central legacies. As a result, as many as five million undocumented immigrants will not be shielded from deportation or allowed to legally work in the United States.

The 4-4 deadlock, which left in place an appeals court ruling blocking the plan, amplified the already contentious election-year debate over the nation’s immigration policy and presidential power.

Ed. note. This campaign to block DACA was organized by the states controlled by Republicans, the suite was brought by Republican Attorney Generals. This blocking of DACA is Republican policy- not only Trump,

The case, United States v. Texas, No. 15-674, concerned an executive action by the president to allow as many as five million unauthorized immigrants who are the parents of citizens or of lawful permanent residents to apply for a program that would spare them from deportation and provide them with work permits. The program was called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ethnic Studies Bill in Senate Education Committee

AB 2016 (Ethnic Studies Bill) goes before the CA Senate Education Committee tomorrow:

  • Please call Senator Carol Liu (Chair of Senate Ed Committee) and ask for her to vote in support of AB 2016. Her telephone number in Sacramento is (916) 651-4025. AB 2016 successfully made its way through the California Assembly, and now needs to continue its path through the Senate.

Letter of Support from Tom Torlakson

  • California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has expressed his support for AB 2016 in a letter last week which he sent to Senator Carol Liu. This is an important step, as this is the first year that he has shown this level of support for Ethnic Studies. You can read the letter here: can call to express your thanks to him here: (916) 319-0800.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Why Are Mexican Teachers Being Jailed and Killed for Seeking Education Reform ?

By David Bacon
The Nation, 6/17/16

A striking teacher from Michoacán demonstrates in Mexico City in front of a line of police. Canadian and US teachers have organized the TriNational Coalition to Defend Public Education to support Mexican teachers' efforts to defeat proposals to introduce standardized testing and remove job protections, which have come from USAID and private foundations promoting corporate education reform. (all photos David Bacon)

LATEST BULLETIN: On Sunday, June 19, Federal armed forces in Oaxaca fired on teachers and supporters in the Mixteca town of Nochixtlan, and killed at least four people and wounded 30 more.

On Sunday night, June 12, as Ruben Nuñez, head of Oaxaca's teachers union, was leaving a meeting in Mexico City, his car was overtaken and stopped by several large king-cab pickup trucks. Heavily armed men in civilian clothes exited and pulled him, another teacher, and a taxi driver from their cab, and then drove them at high speed to the airport. Nuñez was immediately flown over a thousand miles north to Hermosillo, Sonora, and dumped into a high-security federal lockup.

Just hours earlier, unidentified armed agents did the same thing in Oaxaca itself, taking prisoner Francisco Villalobos, the union's second-highest officer, and flying him to the Hermosillo prison as well. Villalobos was charged with having stolen textbooks a year ago. Nuñez's charges are still unknown.

Both joined Aciel Sibaja, who's been sitting in the same penitentiary since April 14. Sibaja's crime? Accepting dues given voluntarily by teachers across Oaxaca. Sección 22, the state teachers union, has had to collect dues in cash since last July, when state authorities froze not only the union's bank accounts but even the personal ones of its officers. Sibaja was responsible for keeping track of the money teachers paid voluntarily, which the government called "funds from illicit sources."

The three are not the only leaders of Oaxaca's union in jail. Four others have been imprisoned since last October. "The leaders of Sección 22 are hostages of the federal government," says Luis Hernández Navarro, a former teacher and now opinion editor for the Mexico City daily La Jornada. "Their detention is simultaneously a warning of what can happen to other teachers who continue to reject the [federal government's] 'education reform,' and a payback to force the movement to demobilize."

The arrests are just one effort the Mexican government has made in recent months to stop protests. On May 19, Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño Mayer announced that he was firing 3,000 teachers from Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Michoacán for not having worked for three days.

All three states are strongholds of the independent teachers movement within the National Union of Education Workers-the National Coordination of Education Workers (the CNTE, or "Coordinadora"). CNTE teachers have been striking schools since earlier this spring to stop implementation of the government's education reform program. While strikes in Mexico are hotly contested, there is no precedent for firing teachers in such massive numbers just for striking.

The night of the firings, federal police attacked and removed the encampment that teachers had organized outside Mexico City's education secretariat. On June 11, the police in Oaxaca City moved to dismantle a similar encampment in front of the state's education office. When 500 heavily armed police advanced shooting tear gas, confrontations spilled into the surrounding streets, reminiscent of the way a similar strike in 2006 was attacked, and then mushroomed into an insurrection that lasted for months.

One controversial provision of the federal government's education reform requires teachers to take tests to evaluate their qualifications. Those not making good marks are subject to firing. This year, when the government tried to begin testing, teachers struck in protest.

In March, when Nuño tried to give awards to "distinguished and excellent teachers," one of them, Lucero Navarette, a primary-school teacher in Chihuahua, told him, "The results can depend on many factors and the personal circumstances each one of us live through...many don't get the result they deserve, because the job they actually do at school is very different from what comes out in the test." Journalist Hernández Navarro says educators have a tradition of egalitarianism and mutual support, and believe that "there are no first- or second- or third-class teachers. Only teachers."

On March 22 Nuño also announced a measure that would spell the end to Mexico's national system of teacher training schools, called the "normals." Instead of having to graduate from a normal, he said, anyone with a college degree in any subject could be hired to teach. Since the Mexican Revolution and before, the normals have been the vehicle for children from poor families in the countryside, and from the families of teachers themselves, to become trained educators. Returning to rural and working-class communities, teachers then often play an important role in developing movements for social justice. The normal schools themselves have historically been hotbeds of social protest and movements challenging the government.

Guerrero's normal school in Ayotzinapa was the target two years ago of an attack that led to the disappearance and possible murder of 43 students, which has since galvanized Mexico. Recently a commission of international experts criticized the Mexican government for refusing to cooperate in efforts to identify the fate of the students, and pointed to the possible involvement of officials at very high levels in their disappearance.

Firing teachers and disbanding the normals is a not-so-hidden goal of the federal education reform. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has called for abolishing the normal schools, and urged President Enrique Peña Nieto to fire teachers who get bad test results and exclude them from teaching. Similar measures have been advocated by a Washington think tank, the Partnership for Educational Revitalization in the Americas, a project of the Inter-American Dialogue with funding from USAID.

Both organizations work in cooperation with the corporate Mexican education reform lobby, Mexicanos Primero, headed Claudio González Guajardo, a member of one of the country's wealthiest families. González instructed Peña Nieto that "Mexicans elected you, not the [teachers] union," and told him to "end the power of the union over hiring, promotion, pay, and benefits for teachers."

Oaxaca has become a target because Sección 22 proposed its own alternative education reform over six years ago, which concentrated on respecting indigenous culture and forging alliances between teachers, students, parents, and their communities (for more on the alternative reform proposals and the corporate sector's attacks on teachers, see "US-Style School Reform Goes South"). After the insurrection of 2006, the union became the backbone of the left's effort to defeat the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and in 2010 Oaxacans for the first time elected a non-PRI governor, Gabino Cué. Owing his election to the teachers, Cué agreed to begin implementing their reform instead of the federal one.

In 2012, however, the PRI regained control of the federal government. Under its pressure, Cué reneged on his commitment to Oaxaca's teachers and announced that he would implement the federal reforms instead. Protests started immediately, and have escalated since then.

With the left in Oaxaca badly divided, the PRI regained control of the state government as well in voting on June 6. The arrests of the two top leaders of Sección 22 followed in less than a week.

Since the 1970s, when over 100 teachers were murdered during the years when the Coordinadora was organized, the CNTE has won control of the union in Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Michoacán, and it has a strong presence in several other states. Nationally, it has become an important base of the Mexican left. It is one of the most powerful opponents of the government's embrace of free-market and free-trade policies. Weakening the union and the role of teachers in politics is therefore an important political goal for González and Mexico's corporate elite, as well as the national political parties moving the country to the right.

When Hernández Navarro calls the leaders of Sección 22 hostages, it's no exaggeration. On June 11, President Peña Nieto announced that he would only talk with the teachers if they agreed to two conditions. "The Government of the Republic repeats that it is open to dialogue only when they comply with two conditions: returning to work in the schools of Chiapas, Guerrero, Michoacán, and Oaxaca, and accepting the Education Reform."

Taking union leaders hostage, firing thousands, and closing one of Mexico's most progressive institutions are serious violations of human and labor rights, and of the rule of law itself. The support the corporate-friendly Mexican reforms get from US political institutions makes it incumbent on those institutions to speak out against these violations as well. It is time to stop that support. Instead, teachers in the United States, who are resisting similar reforms, should stand in solidarity and help free their Mexican colleagues, which would give them some breathing room as they continue their fight.

Romualdo Juan Gutierrez Cortez teaches his class in Tecomaxtlajuaca, in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca. Gutierrez is the binational coordinator of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB), and a longtime activist in the CNTE.

A group of preschool teachers from Huatulco -- Lulu, Lizbeth, Rocio, Roosevelt and Adany -- in the planton organized by Oaxaca's teachers union, Section 22 of the national teachers union and the CNTE, in the zocalo, the main square of Oaxaca. The planton was organized to protest efforts to eliminate union's proposal for education reform. Teachers rotated every week, and these teachers come from Oaxaca's coastal towns.

Jose Eduardo Sanchez and another older teacher from Michoacan drive the truck with the sound system in a march by teachers in Mexico City. Teachers arrived in the capital from all over the country to demonstrate against the government's proposed education reforms.

Teachers from the Miahuatlan district of Oaxaca march to protest the government's education reform program. Their sign says, "Not one step back!"

Mexico's Education Ministry is surrounded by an encampment of teachers who have arrived in the capital from all over the country to demonstrate against the government's proposed education reforms. The banner is from Oaxaca's Seccion 22.

Teachers, other trade union activists and other popular organizations set up tombstones in front of their planton, in Mexico City's Zocalo, to remember the deaths of social activists and workers, on the day Mexican President Felipe Calderon gave his annual speech about the state of the country. The protest was called the Day of the Indignant, was organized by unions including the Mexican Electrical Workers (SME).

Teachers who have arrived in the capital from all over the country march through downtown Mexico City to the Zocalo, to demonstrate against the government's proposed education reforms. The sign carried by this teacher from the CNTE says, "Calderon, understand your country. Don't sell it out!"

Teachers from Oaxaca march with independent trade unions in protest to Mexico City's main square, the Zocalo, on the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The marchers carry a banner saying No to the Federal government's education reform, and Yes to the PTEO, the teachers' union education reform in Oaxaca.

Teachers from Oaxaca and other states set up a tent encampment (planton) to protest the education reforms passed by the Mexican government and the ruling Party of the Institutionalized Revolution. Some protesting teachers lived for months in the planton in the Plaza de la Republica, next to the Monument to the Revolution, before they were driven away by the police. One sign shows that some of the teachers come from the Mixteca region of Oaxaca.

Teachers march with independent trade unions to protest corporate education reform, to Mexico City's main square, the Zocalo, on the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In San Francisco labor and community activists march in support of the parents of
43 students of the Ayotzinapa teachers training school in Guerrero, Mexico, who were kidnapped and possibly murdered.

Photographs of Farm and Recycling Workers by David Bacon
Photographs of Longshoremen by Frank Silva

Photocentral Gallery
1099 E St.
Hayward, CA
6/4 to 8/6/16

Homelessness and the struggle for housing in urban and rural California
Photographs by David Bacon

Asian Resource Gallery
317 Ninth St at Harrison
Oakland, CA
May - June, 2016

In the 38th Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards David Bacon won first-place in the photo series category for his August 6, 2014 cover story for the East Bay Express, "Living on the Streets of Oakland," a photo essay that examined the situation of homeless people in the Bay Area's third largest city.

THE REALITY CHECK - David Bacon blog

EN LOS CAMPOS DEL NORTE: Farm worker photographs on the U.S./Mexico border wall

Youtube interview about the show with Alfonso Caraveo (Spanish)

David Bacon radio review of the movie, Cesar Chavez

Interviews with David Bacon about his book, The Right to Stay Home:

Book TV: A presentation of the ideas in The Right to Stay Home at the CUNY Graduate Center

KPFK - Uprisings with Sonali Kohatkar

KPFA - Upfront with Brian Edwards Tiekert

Books by David Bacon

The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration (Beacon Press, 2013)

Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2008)
Recipient: C.L.R. James Award, best book of 2007-2008

Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)

The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)

En Español:

EL DERECHO A QUEDARSE EN CASA (Critica - Planeta de Libros)


For more articles and images, see

Monday, June 13, 2016

Trump, Racism and the Left in 2016

by Max Elbaum,

Donald Trump’s Indiana victory and now unstoppable march toward the Republican presidential nomination underscores the defining feature of this year’s general election. Linda Burnham’s Notes on the Election [1] cut to the chase:
“Straight up racism and xenophobia have moved from the margins into the center of the GOP presidential campaign; they are used as a rallying cry to attract discontented voters; and white racial solidarity is exposed as the anchor and heart of right wing politics in the U.S. across the spectrum from ordinary conservatism to rabid white supremacy.”
A victory for the GOP nominee would likely mean right-wing control of all branches of the federal government (combined with the 31 governorships and state legislatures they already control). It would deal a huge blow to progressive policies, social movements, and all of the 99%.
At the same time, divisions within the GOP; revulsion at GOP bigotry and crudeness by an apparent majority of the U.S. people; and the surge of progressive energy that runs from Occupy through the Bernie Sanders’s campaign and the Black Lives Matter, Fight for 15 and other social movements means there are good prospects to defeat the right. In fact, there is a reasonable chance of an anti-Trump landslide and the possibility of a roll back of GOP strength in both houses of Congress and numerous state governments. Although the far right has reached the height of its power in recent decades, it is also extremely vulnerable to counter-attack and division.
The perilous consequences of a Trump presidency should be a wake-up call for the left. The possibility of dealing the racist right a major blow should energize and excite us.
The stakes are especially high because this year’s election landscape is not some kind of one-off fluke. Rather, deep shifts in U.S. demographics, economics and politics are making themselves felt and producing a potential turning-point moment. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mass Incarceration

By Valerie Reynoso

Mass Incarceration in the US may make many believe that our safety is being ensured through harsher measures, although it is not necessarily the case and it has proven to be detrimental to communities of color. 

Mass Incarceration refers to the influx of the prison population that has increased by 500% within the past thirty years.  Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) is a term that regards the overlapping interests found in the government and industry through which mechanisms such as surveillance, policing and imprisonment are seen as solutions to economic, social and political issues in contemporary American society. The PIC greatly assists in the maintenance of authority of people who get their power through racial and economic privileges and is notorious for being among the most heavily influenced by institutionalized racism and has proven to be substantially beneficial to for-profit prisons, private prison lobbyists and affiliated corporations.

The notions that institutional racism is stemmed from play a significant role in the perception of young men of color and have a heavy influence on the stigmas pushed towards them that make them more susceptible to mass incarceration. These stigmas completely distort the way police officers and other officials affiliated with the law perceive and misinterpret young men of color and mistreat them--racial profiling--according to the false, animus, criminal perception they have of them.  The dissimilar perceptions of black youth and white youth perpetuate differences that further illustrate the blatant impact of institutionalized racism in the US as a whole through the exposure of the PIC as a maintenance of racial hierarchy and systemic oppression.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Remembering Helen Chavez

Passing of Helen Chavez, who helped her husband, Cesar Chavez, give birth to first enduring U.S. farm workers union
Keene, Calif.—After they were married in 1948, Cesar Chavez would return home after experiencing a fresh injustice toiling in the fields and tell his bride, Helen, “somebody’s got to do something about it.” Helen Chavez nurtured her husband’s dream of organizing farm workers. She and their eight small children gave up a middle class lifestyle in 1962, embracing a life of voluntary poverty to support her husband’s labors. During the earliest years when he would sometimes return home to Delano, Calif. after days on the road feeling alone and demoralized, not having recruited anyone into his new union, she would encourage him, saying, “Cesar, you have to have faith in God that what you’re doing is right.” He would feel better, go out and try again.
Helen Fabela Chavez, 88, who played a vital role helping her husband give birth to what became the first enduring farm workers union in U.S. history—and sustained him during the 31 years he led the United Farm Workers of America—passed away of natural causes on Monday, June 6 at San Joaquin Community Hospital in Bakersfield surrounded by many of her seven surviving children, 31 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
Helen, a humble woman from Delano, used her fierce determination to help change the lives of thousands of farm workers and millions of others who were inspired by La Causa. Born Helen Fabela on Jan. 21, 1928 in the Imperial Valley town of Brawley, to Eloisa and Vidal Fabela—one of Pancho Villa’s colonels during the Mexican Revolution—the family soon moved into a converted horse barn on the Myers Ranch outside McFarland near Delano. She worked the fields with her family.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

LULAC Condemns Trump's Racist Statement

LULAC Condemns Trump's Incendiary Remarks on the Ethnicity of Judge Gonzalo Curiel

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, LULAC National President Roger C. Rocha, Jr. issued the following statement regarding racist comments made against Southern California federal district judge, Gonzalo Curiel, by Donald Trump. The Southern California federal district judge is currently presiding over two class action lawsuits filed by former students against Trump University for using predatory marketing practices to sell worthless real estate classes.

"Claiming a member of the judiciary cannot preside over certain cases because of his race or ethnicity epitomizes racism and is a slap in the face to minority judges across the country. Our three branches of government work independently from each other to run our system of government in an efficient, effective manner, and to suggest that ethnicity or race be used to demand a judicial recusal is not only xenophobic, but threatens the notion of an independent judicial branch.

"It is worth pointing out that Judge Curiel was born in the United States, raised in Indiana and has an extensive record of public service. He is as much of an American as Donald Trump and does not deserve to have his integrity and reputation put at issue in order to serve Donald Trump's political and financial interests.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Trump's racism isn't just racism. It's a strategy.

Trump's racism isn't just racism. It's a strategy.: In a new exclusive video with Civic Action, Demos Action, and Inequality Media, leading progressives voices Demos's Heather McGhee and University of California-Berkeley Professor Ian F. Haney López expose the many ways in which Donald Trump uses racism as a strategy to divide Americans—for his own gain and for the benefit of others in [...]