Mexico: Some reflections on the end of the IEEPO and the attack on the CNTE
The first element to consider, facing the disappearance of the IEEPO and its replacement by an administrative organization with greater centralization of the state and federal government – which belittles positions on Section 22 –, is that this measure takes place in the context of a hardening of the federal government against the workers, and of much police and military repression.
August 12, 2015
And where the teachers in struggle, being the only group that has been confronting the plans of Peña Nieto’s government through the rejection of the educational reform, are the thorn in the side of those plans.
Beyond the policy of their union leaderships, the growing teachers’ mobilization is a red flag for a weakened government, that got the majority in the Congress only in an alliance with the Green Party, and in the context of a big political crisis caused by the flight of Chapo Guzmán, that is forcing it to toughen up its policy further.
Although it is certain that the disappearance of the IEEPO is a direct blow against Section 22, we have to see it as part of something more profound, that is, a strategic blow against the CNTE, in order to impose a substantial change in the relationship of forces between the government and the Coordinating Committee, that, for years, has not been able to be defeated.
It is not for nothing that Gabino Cué and the federal government are propagandizing (and demonizing) the agreements signed in 1993, between the leadership of Section 22 and the Governor then, Heladio Ramírez, that gave the teachers certain concessions and key posts in this government organization, from where the union leaderships have been making policy.
And the government sees clearly, in the dynamics of the current teachers’ movement against the evaluation, a big potentiality based on the progressive anti-government and anti-bureaucratic tendencies expressed among the rank and file teachers nationally, where new groups are joining the struggle. In this way, this was strengthening the Coordinating Committee and opening up the possibility of a new reconfiguration of the dissident teachers, that aimed at their recomposition.
But above all, because this new stage of mobilization of the dissidents is facing a bureaucratic and illegitimate (spurious) leadership in the SNTE, like that of Juan Díaz de la Torre, that has still not managed to establish itself, in order to control the big bureaucratic structure formed by Elba Esther over decades. This is shown in the demands, in some states, for the removal of the CEN of the SNTE.
That is, new dissident forces are being formed – in a single front with the CNTE – while the new leadership of the union is expressing a certain weakness and a lot of questioning – even for many "institutionals," Juan Díaz has betrayed "the school teacher." For that reason, the government cannot wait until this new cowboy leadership assumes total control of the national structure.
In the final analysis, we can say that, for the government, defeating the resistance of the CNTE (after the defeat of the SME, the recovery of the SNTSS and the SNTE, the disciplining of the SUTERM in order to apply the energy reform and of the SNTSA in order to move forward in the privatization of the health sector), and facing the lenient policy of the "opponent" UNT that let the labor reform pass, striking at an opposing union movement of thousands of workers is a strategic objective in order to move forward in the privatization of education – by also repressing the student teachers’ movement – and in the anti-worker plans of Peña Nieto.
It is obvious that a strong blow at the CNTE would weaken the struggle of the rest of the country’s workers.
Gabino Cué and Peña Nieto against Section 22
After 4 years of political agreements that allowed him to govern with stability, Gabino Cué is changing his policy towards Section 22. He is growing fond of the policy of the federal government, in order to weaken Section 22 – in his press conference, alongside of Chuayffet, he mentioned the support of Peña Nieto – and, in that way, to weaken the CNTE.
In that way, he is responding to the questionings of the PAN, Mexicanos Primero and the entire right wing, that are seeking to privatize education and subjugate the CNTE.
And, once he has used the negotiations and the support of Section 22, calculating a better political positioning facing the 2018 elections, he has to separate himself from the teachers seen as "radical."
The strong blow that the liquidation of the IEEPO is, and the creation of an organization without the participation of the teachers, that will punish the mobilized teachers’ absences from work – with the fact that not restarting classes the next school cycle agreed to by the teachers of Oaxaca, would have a harsh response from the new organization – was not foreseen by the Section 22 leadership.
Accustomed to the negotiation tables, they bet that the current neglect of this by the government did not mean something bigger. Above all, when Governor Gabino Cué was blaming the teachers for the deficit in the state treasury, and having used as an excuse the "limited" repressive apparatus to contain the teachers’ radicalism. And, for that reason, they did not go out to condemn forcefully this drift to the right of the "democratic" Governor, awaiting the negotiation, in the midst of a campaign of discredit against the teachers in the media. Now, since then, they have not politically warned the teachers.
For that reason, the city of Oaxaca – in the setting of the Guelaguetza [an annual indigenous cultural event] – is virtually occupied by the Federal Police, the Gendarmerie, and the Army, since they were waiting for Section 22 to agree to the boycott of the official celebration to justify the repression of the teachers and the apprehension of the leaders.
Now, the threatening tone of the former PRI member Gabino Cué, of not tolerating more disturbances or attacks on "strategic installations" (public educational buildings, etc.), shows his agreement with Peña Nieto of going against his old allies with everything. It is an offensive to put an end to the mobilization of Section 22; it has already been reported that there is a list of arrest orders of 30 leaders.
The extinction of the IEEPO seeks not only to change the rules of the game between Section 22 and the state government – since there will be bigger federal government interference and control in what makes education in the organization – but to generate a bigger reactionary political agreement to hold back the teachers. For that reason, the PRI, the PAN and the PRD from the Chamber of Deputies and from Senators have endorsed the disappearance of the IEEPO.
At a local level, the accusation of the "privileges" for the teachers through the IEEPO, gives more elements to the "living forces" of the state to stir up the right wing, attracting a group of the population tired of the long waits, and it will revitalize the cowboy Section 59, not recognized by the IEEPO up to yesterday.
The drift towards the right in Oaxaca is part of the national policy of the parties that previously signed the Pact for Mexico.
As mentioned, this attack is not only against Section 22, but against the CNTE and the groups that are emerging in the teachers’ struggle. For that reason, a response at the same level is urgently needed: it is necessary to repudiate the arrest of the leadership of Section 22 of Oaxaca, as well as the militarization of the city.
It is necessary to convene a National Teachers’ Meeting that confronts the educational reform, in order to decide on a plan of struggle that, in supporting the educational workers of Oaxaca, will strengthen the struggle at a national level and weld the unity of the CNTE with the new groups that are going out to fight in several states. On that basis, it is possible to organize a national strike of the educational workers, who will stop this attack and move forward in their struggle against the treacherous leadership of the SNTE.
In these times, the broadest class solidarity with the teachers that are resisting is required. Not doing that – they have already announced it – goes against the teachers and the groups in struggle in Guerrero, Michoacán, and other states of the country.