Tuesday, October 14, 2008

WNU #963: Teacher Struggles in Puerto Rico, Mexico

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #963, October 12, 2008

1. Puerto Rico: Teachers Vote on Union
2. Mexico: Cops Repress Teacher Demos
3. Haiti: DR Sends Aid, Deports Workers
4. Latin America: More Shocks From Global Crisis
5. Links to alternative sources on: Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, US policy

ISSN#: 1084-922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. For a subscription, write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com. It is archived at http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com

*1. Puerto Rico: Teachers Vote on Union
As of Oct. 7 Puerto Rico's teachers had been voting for a week on whether the Puerto Rican Teachers Union (SPM) should represent them. The island's 40,000 teachers were previously represented by the 42-year-old Teachers' Federation of Puerto Rico (FMPR), but the Labor Relations Commission excluded the FMPR from running in the new election, even though 12,000 teachers had already endorsed the union as their bargaining agent. Earlier this year Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá's administration withdrew the union's certification because of its refusal to accept a ban on strikes by public employees in Law 45. The FMPR mounted a militant 10-day strike in late February and early March over wages, classroom size and health issues, winning several key demands [see Updates #932, 936, 937, 938].

The FMPR called on its supporters to vote against SPM representation. FMPR president Rafael Feliciano said on Oct. 7 that the union's polls showed the "no" vote winning broadly in the Morovis, Manatí, Juana Díaz, Florida, Santa Isabel, Villalba and Jayuya school districts; he said the "no" was narrowly ahead in Coamo, Ciales, Barceloneta and Orocovis districts and tied in Adjuntas. SPM director Aida Díaz called Feliciano a "Pinocchio." The voting is to continue until Oct. 16; 34,285 teachers are eligible to cast their ballots in 89 voting places.

The SPM is affiliated with the Teachers' Association (AM) and the US-based Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In an Oct. 6 press conference in New York, activists from the local FMPR Support Committee charged that the SEIU and its vice president, Dennis Rivera, had made an alliance with Gov. Acevedo Vilá and the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) to raid the FMPR. According to the Puerto Rican daily Primera Hora, SEIU leaders have said winning over the Puerto Rican teachers is part of a strategy to expand the SEIU into the rest of Latin America. (Primera Hora 10/6/08, 10/8/08, 10/9/08)

*2. Mexico: Cops Repress Teacher Demos
Several large operations by federal and local Mexican police from Oct. 7 to Oct. 9 broke up protests by striking teachers and their supporters in Morelos state, south of Mexico City, leaving dozens of people detained or injured. Morelos teachers have been on strike since Aug. 13 to protest the Alliance for Quality Education (ACE), a national plan promoted by Mexican president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and national teachers union head Elba Esther Gordillo Morales [see Updates #959, 960, 962].

On Oct. 7 about 70 Morelos police agents used tear gas and nightsticks to break up a protest by some 200 teachers and residents of the Tres Marías community who were blocking a highway as part of a statewide day of actions. About 20 people were injured, and several were detained. Meanwhile, about 700 protesters blocked the nearby Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway for seven hours. Although the state police were reinforced with 400 agents from the Federal Preventive Police (PFP), officials decided to end the blockade through negotiations: the protesters finally left when officials agreed to release the detained activists. (La Jornada (Mexico) 10/8/08)

On Oct. 8 some 1,000 PFP agents and state police broke up a roadblock that residents and parents had maintained since Oct. 13 on the Cuautla-Puebla highway at the community of Amayuca near the border with Puebla state; the protesters were members of a local group called the Union of Towns in the Eastern Zone. The police operation included six helicopters, from which agents launched tear gas grenades at the crowd. The protesters held out for one hour, sometimes attacking the agents with rocks, clubs, fireworks and molotov cocktails. A total of 49 people were arrested and 20 were injured; cars were damaged and a tractor trailer was set on fire. The agents pursued the protesters into Amayuca, where they carried out house-to-house searches, beating protesters as they arrested them. (LJ 10/9/08)

Also on Oct. 8, police tried to end a road blockade on the Cuautla-Jojutla highway at Xoxocotla, Puente de Ixtla municipality, in the south of the state; residents had been blocking the road since Sept. 29. The operation failed to dislodge the protesters, who captured four agents but released them later. The police returned in the early morning of Oct. 9, but left when they didn't find any protesters; in this operation the PFP agents and state police were backed up by hundreds of soldiers in armored vehicles and Hummer trucks. The protesters resumed the blockade later in the morning. In the afternoon an operation of some 2,000 security forces finally broke up the protest after a two-hour battle which left 10 people injured, 16 protesters arrested and several cars damaged. (LJ 10/10/08)

Negotiations were continuing between the teachers and officials as of Oct. 10, but the state had suspended payment to the striking teachers and started hiring replacement workers. Officials said they were "working every day" so that the situation wouldn't escalate to the sort of uprising sparked by a teachers strike in neighboring Oaxaca in 2006. (LJ 10/11/08)

*3. Haiti: DR Sends Aid, Deports Workers
The Dominican Republic deported 691 people into Haiti at the border town of Belladère in the Central Plateau department from Sept. 4 to Sept. 30, according to the local Human Rights Committee, which is part of the Jeannot Succès Border Network. Witnesses say the deportees were imprisoned for two to five days before their repatriation.

Although figures were not yet available for other border areas, the Belladère report indicates that the Dominican Republic hasn't let up on its policy of removing Haitian immigrants; it deported 65,000 people to Haiti between September 2004 and June 2008. At the end of September Major Gen. José Aníbal Sanz Jiminian, head of the Dominican migration bureau, announced plans to deport Haitian street vendors, especially the ones selling telephone cards. "We will take action against these foreigners who live here illegally, and the products in their possession will be confiscated," he said.

The new deportations came as Haiti was struggling to recover after being hit by four major tropical storms in one month [see Updates #961, 962]. As of Sept. 11 the Dominican government had sent food, medicine, a medical team and three helicopters; the emergency assistance was valued at $565,000. The Dominican ambassador to Haiti said the aid was "testimony to the Dominican Republic's recognition of the courageous people of Haiti, who should always maintain their pride." (AlterPresse 10/7/08)

*4. Latin America: More Shocks From Global Crisis
Latin American markets continued to be shaken by a global financial crisis set off in September by bad mortgages in the US [see Updates #961, 962]. On Oct. 7 the stock exchange in Sao Paulo, Brazil, fell 4.66%, the Mexican market was down 3.97%, stocks in Santiago, Chile, fell 4.29%, and the market in Buenos Aires, Argentina, lost 2.72%. Latin American losses that day were smaller those in New York, where the Dow Jones lost 5.11%. (La Jornada 10/8/08 from Reuters, AFP, DPA and Notimex) But fallout from the global crisis is likely to get worse. Speaking in Durango on Oct. 6, Mexican Labor Secretary Javier Lozano Alarcón said his department expected some 200,000 Mexicans now working in the US to come home during the next year; he denied the number would be in the millions. (LJ 10/7/08)

Despite the problems in Latin America, the US government's dramatic interventions to unfreeze its own credit markets have amused Latin American critics of US neoliberal economic policies. "How many times have [US officials] criticized me for nationalizing the phone company?" Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez asked during his weekly television program. "They say, 'The state shouldn't get involved in that.' But now they don't criticize [US president George W.] Bush for having nationalized...the biggest banks in the world. Comrade Bush, how are you?" (McClatchy Newspapers 10/7/08)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, US policy

Political and Social Crisis in Paraguay

Bolivia: Back to the Trenches

Bolivia: Water, Energy Everywhere - But Not for Locals

Peru: cabinet shake-up in "Petrogate" scandal

Peru: Sendero resurgent in Apurimac Valley

Peru: disappearances in Ayacucho

Refugees in Ecuador: Plan Colombia and the Asylum Lottery

Change Triumphs in Ecuador's Constitutional Referendum

Colombia: Uribe decrees emergency powers in judicial strike http://ww4report.com/node/6151
Colombian guerillas linked to Mexican cartels?

Nicaragua: McCain served on board of terrorist-linked organization

Memories of the Meltdown: The Sky Is Falling on Mexico Too

Study Makes Case for Legalizing Abortion in Mexico

Armoring NAFTA: The Battleground for Mexico's Future

Haiti's New PM and the Power of NGO's

Bush Seen as Out of Touch on Latin America

Community, Indigenous and Worker Alternatives to Transnational Mining

Latin America: The War on Democracy - Documentary Online

Bush Foreign Policy: From Dynasty to Legacy

The Biosafety Protocol and the Future of Biosafety

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and
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1 comment:

Stephen Mauldin said...

I became interested in the revolt in Mexico because it has a long history of spontaneous uprisings by the oppressed population going back to the 16th century. In short, it was the usual story of spontaneous revolution by oppressed peoples, despite their effective economic and social self-organization, inspired by the egalitarian maxim (on all these counts by definition anarchistic) being crushed by the existing coordinates of power. But the history of Mexico shows us once again that always an instinct for mutual aid in opposition to elitist power persists.We have to keep the international activist spotlight on the Mexican elite and their counterparts to the North so something truly new may survive the fate of those in revolt, especially Mayans, since the 16th century. Below is my post based on the events in Mexico described in this article:

Zapatista! Mexican Army Attacks Civilians