Workers Vanguard No. 1013

23 November 2012


Mexico: Cops Attack Students, Teachers in Michoacán

Drop All Charges!

(Young Spartacus pages)

MEXICO CITY, November 17—Protests have continued in response to the October 15 police raids in Michoacán, which were overseen by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) state government and the outgoing right-wing clerical National Action Party (PAN) federal government. Section 18 of the SNTE teachers union, which is controlled by the CNTE dissident wing of the union, has demonstrated in defense of the students. Section 18 will also be participating in the November 20 national strike in opposition to the anti-labor Labor Reform approved by the federal government (see “Mexico: PRI Back at Helm of Capitalist State,” WV No. 1012, 9 November).

All 176 arrested protesters have since been released, but 49 of them still face charges including sedition and rioting. The students called off their strike on October 29, but on November 6 they set up a round-the-clock protest outside the state government offices in Morelia, the capital of Michoacán. This lasted ten days, at which point they held a demonstration blocking a highway heading out of the city. They are demanding that all charges be dropped and that the authorities comply with what they agreed to in the negotiations—more teaching positions, modifications of the curriculum and full credit for the current semester.

As we wrote last year in the wake of the murderous cop attack in Guerrero, which was spearheaded by the nationalist-populist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) state government, “The demands of rural teachers college students [such as better facilities and more resources] have changed very little in the last 50 years, and in all this time the response of the ruling capitalists/landowners—especially but not only in Guerrero—has varied from class disdain to more abject police/military brutality.”

The following is a translation of the October 22 leaflet issued by the Grupo Espartaquista de México, section of the International Communist League.

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Students, faculty members and workers at the teachers colleges in the cities of Cherán, Arteaga and Tiripetío went on strike September 10, demanding teaching posts and some control over the curriculum. Beginning on October 4, the strikers seized buses and trucks and held them inside the campus facilities. Before dawn on October 15, PRI governor Fausto Vallejo, together with the PAN federal government, unleashed cop terror against the strikers. Armed police stormed in and threw tear gas at the demonstrators, who defended themselves with rocks and by setting some of the buses on fire. Finally, the police overwhelmed and brutally beat them. A total of 176 strikers were arrested and many were injured, including some with gunshot wounds. Cops attacked Cherán villagers who tried to help the strikers. While most of those arrested have been freed, eight are still imprisoned in Morelia under charges of sedition and rioting. Section 18 of the SNTE is now on strike, demanding freedom for the jailed strikers. What’s needed is mass, active solidarity with the Michoacán students, especially mobilizing the support of the working class with its social power. An injury to one is an injury to all! Freedom now for those still in jail! Drop all the charges!

The raid against these students, who have strong ties to the teachers union that they will eventually join and who attend school in a region with a large indigenous population, sparked a mass demonstration in Morelia. State repression was directed even against those who mobilized for the release of the jailed strikers: Seven people who blocked the Morelia-Pátzcuaro highway in Michoacán on October 15 were arrested, while dozens of students who closed down Insurgentes Avenue in Mexico City on October 19 were brutally attacked. The raid on the Michoacán campuses is also a threat against the students and rejected applicants who have occupied schools in Morelia, Chiapas and Mexico City. As long as the capitalist system exists, the rulers will use state forces against those who demand education, jobs, housing, health care and basic rights.

Many throughout the country are worried about what the PRI’s return to the presidency will mean. Nevertheless, widespread illusions in the PRD and/or López Obrador and his Morena [Movement for National Regeneration] are an obstacle that prevents the working class and oppressed from fighting for the society they deserve, one governed according to the needs of the people instead of the interests and profits of the owners of industry and capital. “Leftist” bourgeois parties and politicians only differ with the PRI and PAN over how to administer capitalism. Although the PRD did not directly participate in this cruel repression and they now throw up their hands in horror and condemnation, this party was responsible for the state repression against students of the teachers college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, last year that left two students dead on the highway. Similarly, PRD governor Lázaro Cárdenas Batel sent cops against the miners and metal workers on strike in the port of Lázaro Cárdenas in 2006, leaving two miners dead [see “Miners, Steel Workers Strikes Shake Mexico,” WV No. 872, 9 June 2006]. The bourgeois state—which has the cops, the army, the prisons and the courts at its core—can’t be reformed. Its class nature will not change by replacing one ruling capitalist politician with another. What happened in Cherán, Arteaga and Tiripetío last week is not an aberration, but the normal functioning of the bourgeois state.

The bourgeoisie couldn’t care less about the general education of the exploited and oppressed masses—especially poor peasants and indigenous people. As we wrote last year after the attack in Ayotzinapa:

“The bourgeoisie allocates resources for education in proportion to what its own priorities require for the training of capitalist society’s future administrative, technical and ideological personnel.... We communists fight for free, quality education for all—in the city and in the countryside—with open admissions and student stipends. Placing education at the service of the workers and peasants requires putting an end to the system of capitalist exploitation, which is dedicated to producing profits for the numerically small bourgeoisie, through a socialist revolution that expropriates the bourgeoisie and establishes a collectivized, planned economy to satisfy the needs of the population.”

— “Mexico: Cops Shoot Down Students in Guerrero,” reprinted in WV No. 995, 3 February

To end state violence once and for all, the working class, standing at the head of the rural and urban oppressed masses, must destroy the capitalist state and replace it with its own class dictatorship, in the form of a workers and peasants government. To achieve this it is necessary for the proletariat to break with all illusions in the bosses’ parties and forge a revolutionary workers party that will lead the fight to end capitalism. That is the task to which we dedicate all our efforts.