We are Constructing a Movement
in Defense of Life
(en español)

by Judith E. Cid Flores  <judithcid@hotmail.com>
translation by G.S.  <george.salzman@umb.edu>
29 June 2006

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/2006-06-29.htm

      Faced with the current political crisis that the Oaxaca state government provoked by its mistaken repressive strategies for putting an end to the teachers' conflict, the government is undertaking various efforts to discredit the teachers' movement as well as it members. It is trying this way to debilitate and destroy the help of the population for the movement, which has been transformed into a popular movement. We have seen, throughout the communication media, messages or spots in which they say in an agitational manner that Oaxaca occupies first place of student censure and desertion, attributed to the years of struggle of the teachers. Our state indeed occupies one of the top places in illiteracy, desertion, student censure, however, this situation has a deep social and political origin that it's necessary to elucidate.

      Oaxaca is one of the states with major inequities and socioeconomic disparities among its diverse social classes and population groups. These inequities have been aggravated by the governmental economic policies of structural adjustment and free trade that have brought as consequences major economic and social poverty for the economically weak part of the population.

      The economic and social disparities and inequalities are due to capitalist economic development that favors small, economically powerful groups and classes, located principally in urban areas. While high salary levels, well-being and quality of life are reflected in the wealthy social classes and urban areas, in rural and indigenous areas poverty and lack of access to basic services, sickness and premature death have persisted and have increased in zones of high marginalization.

      Policies of structural adjustment: reduction of public and social expenditures, elimination of subsidies, privatization of state enterprises, fiscal reforms, restriction of credits, pushing free trade and the elimination of barriers to foreign investments. The Mexican government modified article 27 of the Constitution in 1992, reducing subsidies to the rural areas and opening communal lands to private and corporate ownership. Such macroeconomic adjustments have had disastrous socioeconomic impacts on working class families, principally in rural and indigenous communities. A large number of small businesses closed, thousands of workers have remained unemployed, producing a major economic crisis that has provoked major vulnerability of groups and social classes with little resources, subjecting them to malnutrition, sickness and premature death.

      Oaxaca is among the top places in the statistics that express poor living conditions for the population. Such indices are low economic income, unemployment, underemployment, migration, sickness and premature death. The index of well-being is 1 [lowest], found in the three lowest states of the nation. [Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero]

      The Mocemex index is 80, which shows us, among other things, poor conditions of economic renumeration.

      Due to the socioeconomic conditions of our population, Oaxaca exhibits a migratory category of forced expulsion.

      In the indices of health and quality of life expressed indirectly through the indices of sickness, disablity, disfunction and death our state occupies first place. Infant mortality, mortality during childbirth, sicknesses of diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections and malnutrition are the highest rate in the nation.

      The levels of malnutrition in the southern belt of poverty of our country are four times greater than in the wealthiest urbanized states. Infant death due to malnutrition has increased by 25% since 1980.

      Children in the poorest states – Oaxaca and Chiapas – die at a rate of two to one compared to children in the richest states.

      The incidence of poverty among the indigenous is at 81% compared to 18% of non-indigenous groups. [2/3 of Oaxaca's population is indigenous]

      Malnutrition in the first five years of life causes irreversible cerebral damage if the nutritional state of the children is not attended to opportunely. The consequences of malnutrition during the first five years of life include low development of intellectual capability. Multiple studies in the world, among them those undertaken by UNICEF show that malnutrition in the first five years of life is the principal cause of absenteeism and poor scholastic performance of primary and secondary school students. Thus the circle of poverty is completed: malnutrition, poor scholarship, poverty. Such information shows that it is not the teachers' movement that is responsible for or guilty of desertion and low scholastic performance. It is the mistaken governmental policies applied over decades and decades that have generated the disparity and the polarization of the conditions of life between the economically powerful social classes and the unprotected. The indices of low well-being and quality of life, of sickness and premature death, paradoxically express the collapse of the essential function of a government instituted to serve its people, to protect their well-being and to guarantee the exercise of their human rights: to health, education, nutrition, work, equality, social justice and to life ... among others.

      "The obligations of the state confronting human rights appears double-faced: the state is obliged, in its domain of action, to respect limitations that it imposes on human rights; on the other hand it is obliged to act as their provider and defender. That is to say, the primary obligations of the states are respect for and guarantee of human rights. There also exist secondary obligations which refer to state responsibility for non-compliance or violation of the primary obligations of respect for and guarantee of ..." which are stipulated in international treaties on human rights such as the charter of the Organization of American States OEA.

      "... The obligation to respect human rights recognizes the existence of limitations on the exercise of public power when it seeks to penetrate the sphere of the individual, limits that derive from the fact that human rights are attributes inherent to human dignity, and consequently are superior to the power of the state" (charter of the Organization of American States OEA).

      The governments in the service of the dominant classes (PRI and PAN), have considered poverty and social inequality as secondary and inevitable aspects of economic development and of "progress", more than as a violation of economic, social and cultural human rights. Consequently they have treated matters such as malnutrition, sickness and premature mortality as inevitable costs of this development. The continuing and growing inequality and its impact on health, well-being and the quality of life constitute an attack on the marginalized classes and groups, and a violation of international law.

      Governmental public policies placed uniquely at the service of the classes with great economic power are confronted with the alternative of unplanned economic-productive development that has brought about insoluble differences between groups with great economic power and very large economically vulnerable populations: “rich" and “poor". These policies tend towards completely annihilating life on the earth, changing the natural habitat of the planet by violating ecological laws.

      The political and economic power of the government in the service of the economically powerful had passed over [i.e. disregarded] social conditions, environmental, cultural and policies that guarantee human well-being and the quality of life as much for the communities as for each member of them, including the politicians and the wealthy themselves.

      In the state of Oaxaca they prioritized policies directed by the ignorance and caprice of the wealthy, as examples we have in Oaxaca City the alteration and destruction of historic monuments such as the Zócalo, the Juárez Park (El Llano), the Plaza of Dance, the Seven Regions Fountain, Fortín Hill, road intersections and the most antique neighborhood of the city and of the historic center: the Barrio of Jalatlaco, the Barrio that is the cradle of Oaxaca City. They are destroying it for the intended construction of the bus center of the East Autobuses (ADO). In the rural zones we have as examples of the expropriation policies the robbing of vast areas of beaches, of green and woodland zones from territories of rural and indigenous populations, to be turned over to foreign corporations. Without concern that in order to carry out the whims of the economically powerful classes they bring about an urban appeareance and colonial image, the disappearance of green areas and woodland zones with inevitable impacts on the cultural patrimony, the environment, the conditions of life, of health and well-being of large population groups. Mistaken policies like these have caused ecological deterioration on the planet with consequent global heating following the tendency towards destruction of life.

      The political response that's needed is that large social forces which operate in our state collect criteria and strength that can plan together a strategic action which, conceived with intelligence and creativity, will be carried out at the great scale that the situation demands.

      The Oaxaca community: workers, professionals, business people, religious people, communication media and the population in general cannot be unaffected by the problems and conflicts that afflict various social groups or classes. Many of these conflicts are symptoms, modes of expression of existing injustice and social crisis that affect each and every one of us.

      The bellicose politicians, military, police are the organized expression of violence of the state developed to repress social movements. Paradoxically they are expressions of the collapse of the essential function of a government which was instituted to serve the people. The social response is that we can understand and accept that all of us are involved and that there are no isolated solutions.

      We have to support the commitment of the families with the teachers, of the neighbors with their community committees, with the social and civil organizations. An active commitment is necessary by community, by region and by state. If this commitment comes about it will provide, to the communities small and large, the necessary autonomy for respecting their particularities and, at the same time, it will gain social backing for a general politics of conflict resolution in accord with the interests of the majority.

      All, absolutely everyone of us, can do something to promote a more dignified life, one which appreciates really humane life and, for that, we must regain solidarity as a value based on individual human enrichment with importance to the community.

      We must organize ourselves in defense of life because it is life itself that one finds threatened by bad policies and bad governments in the service of the dominant classes. If this step is carried out we will be in a condition to discover original paths to prevent and defeat the different manifestations of the destruction of life. We will be transforming our society into a community that is sustained in solidarity, liberty and justice.

      All of us are constructing a social movement in defense of human rights, of social justice, of liberty and of life. This popular movement can be the beginning.


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Last update of this page: 30 June 2006