The protests and manifestations of students that led to last Monday’s raids were organized as a response to the state’s effort to impose a curriculum reform, which would undermine Normalista autonomous courses and erase the institutions’ long history of popular struggle in rural and indigenous communities.
Students took control of the campuses in Tiripetio, Arteaga and Cheran, earlier this month and captured public transportation vehicles in the provinces of Michoacán to make the trip to Morelia, the capital city, to attempt dialogue and negotiations with state authorities.
Last Sunday, dialogues collapsed and the students went back to their occupied campuses where federal and state police began the suppression the next morning with a balance of more than two hundred arrested students.
Brief History of the Normalista Schools
The Mexican Normalista School was founded on the idea that contrary to SEP’s (Secretaria de Educacion Publica) conservative policies, which viewed education as a tool of discipline and social control, it would assume an intellectual stance which conceived school as a place to awaken popular consciousness through the model of a socialist education proposed by socialist President Lazaro Cardenas in the early 30’s, whose curriculum was dependent on the needs of the students rather than on a standardized state program to form rural teachers and other professionals.
The main requisite to be accepted as a student is to be poor, hence the name “Escuela de los Pobres” (Poor’s school). Being clearly anti-capitalist and anti-system, the school has been attacked since its establishment. In the early 1940’s President Avila Camacho (PRI) shut down 30 of the 46 campuses that existed in the country, forcing the remaining to radicalize to the point that in the 60’s, rural teachers and former students like Lucio Cabañas in the state of Guerrero, created el Partido de los Pobres, and utilized guerrilla tactics to challenge state abuse.
Last Monday’s crackdown of striking Normalista students, is the most recent, and the bloodiest, in a wave of attacks against school occupations in the country.
The Ejercito Popular Revolucionario, EPR, released the following communiqué on Monday Oct. 15th.
“To the instigators of repression, know that violence and terrorism of state against working people and our organizations, are leaving us the use of the legitimate right of self-defense as the only alternatively…
To the people of Michoacán,
To the people of the world,
To national and international media,
To the popular revolutionary organizations,
To the normalistas,
Sisters, brothers, comrades
For the umpteenth time the government of Fausto Vallejo Figueroa (PRI) in collusion with federal authorities, have stifled our daughters and sons. This time his anger was directed against normalistas of Tiripetío, Cheran and Arteaga Michoacan, resulting in hundreds of detainees and dozens of injured product of brutal beatings and torture they were subjected to by the military and federal and state police forces. Also, there are an unknown number of missing students. A bloody and brutal repression exercised within the context of the imposition of neoliberal policies, which only benefit a handful of politicians and oligarchs who have amassed political power and are in collusion with the communications monopolies to criminalize popular protest. Rule of law which in fact is nothing more than a bourgeois oligarchic rule of law that warrants state violence and crimes of all kinds against the oppressed and exploited. Criminal policy, meek and submissive that on one hand represses, tortures, disappears, murders and intimidates the people and their organizations, while on the other meets the demands of local oligarchs like the Ramirez-Medina, national and international, entrepreneurs, politicians of every stripe reactionary and conservative political groups vying for the privatization of social and constitutional rights.
Normalista Students only used their constitutional and legitimate right to defend free, secular and compulsory education with a scientific, critical and humanist approach. The government’s intent with its education reform is to privatize this constitutional right and make education an instrument of domination and subjection by transforming it into a technic, submissive and conservative training manual at the service of capitalism. The repression against normalistas early Monday Oct. 15, is a state crime, and as such should be criminalized, prosecuted and punished. The direct responsible is the fascist Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa and governor of Michoacán, Fausto Vallejo Figueroa. Also, the incompetent secretary of government Jesus Reyna Garcia, whose political idiocy knows no more than invoke and resort to repression as a solution to social and economic problems of the state. Also, are responsible the secretary of federal public safety, Genaro Garcia Luna, the secretary of state public safety Elias Alvarez Hernandez and Jose Maria Cazares, president of the state commission of human rights who has become the keeper of the old-style PRI and endorses the repressive and bloody acts of state criminals.
Responsible are also the voices of the entourage of criminals acting under the power of the media duopoly of Televisa and TV Azteca, which promote and justify state violence and repression while systematically pushing the criminalization of popular protest along business consortiums like Grupo Marmol whose directors have hired puppet journalists like Victor Hugo Villicaña and Abraham Mendoza, as agents of state terrorism. What happened the morning of Monday October 15 was not a confrontation between students and police; it was a brutal act of repression exercised with treachery and advantage, using infantry weapons and ground artillery against defenseless and unarmed students. We confirm once again that the war is not against the so-called organized crime is against the people who organize and fight in defense of their constitutional and human rights. This criminal proceeding is unique and characteristic of the old PRI, which threatens to expand and deepen nationwide. Take note that violence does not come from the people, it is exercised from the military-police state that has been operating in the country and with the return of the PRI is consolidating and institutionalizing itself. Mr. Fausto Vallejo Figueroa, a "pact" or "social commitment" will not work if it relies only on the law of clubs and guns to resolve social conflicts; we remind you that crimes against humanity are personal responsibilities, and you for being the representative of the executive will be responsible for what happens during the wave of crackdowns that’s been waged against the people of Michoacán.
From the ranks of the socialist revolution we condemn and repudiate this underhanded state crime committed not only against the normalista schools, in this case of Michoacán, but against all the people who constitute the vast majority of the exploited and oppressed of Mexico.
We demand that the normalistas’ demands are met, immediate cease to physical and psychological torture to which they are being subjected, immediate and unconditionally release, recovery of missing students, and prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators and masterminds of this devious crime of State.
We join the protest voices clamoring for the resignation of Governor Fausto Vallejo Figueroa, Secretary of Government Jesus Reina Garcia, Public Safety Secretary Elias Alvarez Hernandez and Jose Maria Cazares President of the State Commission of Human Rights (ECHR); the minions of the oligarchy, terrorist PRI mafia state.
From the trenches of the revolutionary armed struggle, we salute the normalista students and their legitimate struggle. There’s no economic, political or military power that surpasses the peoples capacity to organize themselves. Fierro! Not one step back in defense of education!
There is no room for sectarianism and isolated struggles. Repression galloping as a horseman of the apocalypse requires coordinated mass political actions. Instigators of repression know that violence and terrorism of state against working people and their organizations are leaving the use of the legitimate right of self-defense, as the only alternative. Don’t be surprised when people take matters into their own hands and popular justice is exercised against the impunity that generates the bourgeois oligarchic rule of law.
LET’S CLOSE THE RANKS AGAINST STATE TERRORISM AND PROMOTE POEOPLE’S SELF-DEFENSE!
FOR SOCIALIST REVOLUTION!
VICTORY OR DEATH!
THE EPR WILL TRIUMPH!
State Committee of the Popular Revolutionary Democratic Party. Command Zone of the Ejercito Popular Revolucionario. Year 48.
From somewhere in the state of Michoacán de Ocampo, October 15, 2012.”
- Shared information from: Kaosenlared.com, Noticiasdelarebelion.com and other independent media collectives.