The violence in Oaxaca is a result of neoliberal demands by the IMF, World Bank, and OECD to place Mexican education on the speculative market.
The reasons why the Mexican government wants to impose the education reform—even if it means killing people, as with the massacre in Nochixtlan by repressive state forces on June 19—are rooted in economic objectives guided by international financial organizations. The reform, proposed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, under the OECD-Mexico Agreement to Improve the Quality of Education in Schools of Mexico, aims to lay the groundwork to shift education from being a state responsibility to instead being resolved in the realm of the financial market.
One of the state’s actions accompanying the education reform is the issuing of bonds to the speculative market. Just over a year after the adoption of the reform, in December 2015, the first educational bonds or National School Infrastructure Certificates, CIEN, were issued by the Mexican Stock Exchange, which investors BBVA Bancomer and Merrill Lynch purchased for 8.581 billion pesos, approximately US$457 million.
When a company or state issues bonds, the investors who buy them are lending them money in exchange for the issuer—in this case, the Mexican state—committing to pay the interest at fixed intervals over a predetermined period of time. These payments will be made every six months and by the states and their inhabitants.
With the educational bonds, the state aims to attract investors to this sector and, in the first stage, aims to renovate existing infrastructure and promote the development of new schools and basic services. That is, the state has converted the bonds into a given number of common stocks to attract investors to this sector that, since its establishment, is seen as another company that will have to generate profits for shareholders.
The educational reform is part of the Structural Adjustment Programs, SAP, guided by the World Bank, WB, International Monetary Fund, IMF, and the Inter-American Development Bank, IDB. In total, 11 structural reforms have been approved: labor, the treasury, education, finance, energy, reform on transparency, political and electoral reform, reform in telecommunications and broadcasting, the new court-ordered protection law, the national criminal procedures code, and reform in economic competition. Twenty-two more reforms still need to be approved.
According to Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economics and former vice president of the World Bank, the Structural Adjustment Programs have four steps: privatization, in which the government sells companies and public institutions to private investors; the liberalization of financial markets, when controls are reduced on the entry and exit of money in the country—in order to attract investors—interest rates are increased; the introduction of market prices, when the government allows the prices of basic food, water and energy to rise; and free trade, which means removing barriers (taxes and tariffs) on foreign products that protect local producers and industries.
If the national teachers' movement manages to bring down the educational reform, a path will be cleared to bring down all the structural reforms that are occurring in the country’s strategic sectors, such as the energy sector. This is the assessment that teachers are making. This is precisely the fear of the federal government. The government of President Enrique Peña Nieto remains closed to dialogue because it already signed all of the international agreements.
The National Coordinator of Education Workers, or CNTE, argues that the educational reform is a model seeking to outsource education by replacing their positions with new contract workers without labor rights, until it turns into a privatized service. The reform is focused on recruitment procedures and teacher supervision and not on true changes to improve education and the working conditions of the teachers.
According to María Bernardita Zamora, a history teacher and member of the CNTE in Iztapalapa, one of the poorest areas in Mexico City, the estimate is that with the reform, 60 percent of the 1.2 million teachers in Mexico today will lose their jobs. So far, 4,000 teachers have been fired for rejecting the education reform, according to the teacher.
The teachers of the CNTE have been on a general strike since May 15. Since that date there has been intense plan of mobilizations by the movement, and the state response was brutal repression. In the last week, barricades were erected in all regions of the state of Oaxaca, where countless acts of repression by federal and state police were recorded.
On June 18 and 19, the repression led to a massacre. Starting on June 18, in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the battles that began in Zanacatepec extended to Juchitan, Ixtepec, Tehuantepec and Salina Cruz. All barricades reorganized themselves after those failed attempts. Later, on the 19, the focus of the repression spread to the Mixteca region in Nochixtlan, where for a week teachers, parents and the community in general had maintained barricades to keep the police out of the city of Oaxaca. The repression left at least eight people dead, 27 disappeared and a hundred injured and arrested.