The teachers’ union and sympathetic organizations in Chiapas today punished half a dozen teachers for refusing to join in the current strike, shearing the hair of two women and forcing all six to march barefoot through the streets of the capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
The six were reported to have been documenting the names of teachers who had not turned up for classes in the municipality of Comitán de Domínguez. Members of the CNTE local Section 7 and other groups seized their paperwork and cut their hair before forcing them to wear signs proclaiming themselves as “traitors to the motherland,” among other messages.
Teachers have been protesting in Chiapas for two weeks now following the CNTE’s call for a general strike. But according to federal education authorities, most schools — including those in Chiapas — are operating normally.
The union claims that is not the case in Chiapas, and that 98% of teachers have joined the strike. Some reports indicate that teachers are not working for fear of reprisals by the union.
Section 7 general secretary Manuel Mendoza said shearing of the teachers’ hair should serve as a warning to others who are not opposed to education reform, the principal reason for the strike and the union protests.
He claimed it was parents who support the union’s stand who were behind the hair-cutting. But he refused to condemn the action. “I do not condemn it,” he said repeatedly in an interview with Denise Maerker of Grupo Fórmula.
“What is happening is that the violence is not coming from us, it’s coming from the state.”
Yesterday, dissident teachers seized at least eight gas stations in Tuxtla Gutiérrez and at several offered free fuel to passing motorists.