Thousands of teachers marched through the streets of Oaxaca yesterday, in protest against the closure of the education administration in the town (IEEPO). In closing the IEEPO, the Mexican government, with the collusion of the Oaxaca state government, is attempting to force corporate education reform on the area, including standardised curricula and testing, performance related pay and tenure and privatisation. In doing so, it knew that it would provoke resistance from the teachers and communities of Oaxaca, who have been campaigning for community-based, collaborative and culturally sensitive edcuation. In an attempt to head off protests, the government sent thousands of security forces in to the town.

Representives of the democratic teachers' union movement from many parts of Mexico, met in Oaxaca on Sunday to plan their resistance. They decided that the school year which is due to start on August 24th would be boycotted, until the state government restores the IEEPO. In asking the authorities to sit down and negotiate with them in good faith, they also made a decision that their protests would be peaceful, thus failing to respond to the provocation of the authorities, the security forces, the arrest warrants reportedly prepared for teachers' leaders and the helicopters circling over the town.

Teachers in Oaxaca are organised in section 22 of the teachers union SNTE. The national leadership of SNTE disgracefully supported the government's actions and called on teachers in the state to break from section 22.

This betrayal by SNTE is even more shocking, given the dreadful violence which has been meted out to dissident teachers in Mexico, and in particular the abduction and possible murder by police of the 43 student teachers at the Ayotzinapa training college in Guerrero state. The demand for the return of the students has been one of the central demands of every demonstration by dissident teachers. The leadership of SNTE has been silent on the issue however. On Sunday, thousands of people marched through the capital Mexico City, demanding the safe return of the students and led by the grieving relatives of the young people.