For decades, teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico, have conducted strikes to demand educational reform from the federal and state government. Some of the teacher's demands include living wages, sanitary schools, text books, and more public school facilities. Historically, these strikes have lasted short periods of time and caused minimal or no disruption to the state's economy. The government, except for minor concessions, has been able to ignore the teacher's strikes and their demands
May 15, 2006: It's National Teachers Day in Oaxaca. And the leadership of Oaxaca's 70,000 teachers representing Section 22 of the National Teachers Union declared that if there was no further movement in their negotiations with the government, then the following week "would see a state-wide strike by Oaxaca's school teachers" and that "This one will be different than all the previous strikes"...
May 22-24, 2006: 70,000 Oaxaqueño school teachers go on strike. And the first indications that this was to be a "different" kind of strike were immediately apparent in and around the city's historic centre. There, for the first time, the teachers, in the thousands, erected a tent and awning city, occupied day and night in the Zocalo and in the streets surrounding the Zocalo. It's a peaceful occupation of the city's center, but it is also immediately apparent that more teachers are coming into the occupied area on a daily basis. And these teachers are not just from the City of Oaxaca. They're swarming in from the outlying villages and towns in the Valley... (Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News and Analysis, August 21-27, 2006)
The teacher's strike, their encampments, their independent media infrastructure, and their continuous mass mobilizations (marches reaching up to 300,000 people) have been perceived as a serious threat to Mexico's dominant political and economic order. In the early morning of June 14, 2006, the state attempted to crush the teacher's movement by launching an army of several thousand uniformed and plain clothed state and municipal police in an all out attack against the teachers. Police violently destroyed the encampments and scattered the teachers throughout the city.
Within two days, the teachers released the names and photos of 12 teachers and 3 students who were killed and/or disappeared during the attack. The government denies the charges. To date, it is confirmed that five union members have been shot and killed by police.
Since the June 14th attack, teachers and their sympathizers have taken the city center back. They have rebuilt their encampments, their radio stations, their newsletter circulation, and their barricades. The mass mobilizations continue and, following a police attack on independent radio stations, they have been complimented by another effective tactic, the occupation of main stream media centers. From here, the teachers have promoted their most recent and immediate demand, the resignation of Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz.
Government repression also persists. Police continue to attack and kill members of the APPO, a recently formed network of organizations sympathetic to the teachers strike and dedicated to removing Governor Ortiz from power. On August 22, 2006, police attacked APPO members who were guarding commercial station La Ley 710, killing Lorenzo San Pablo Cervantes, head of the education sector of the state Department of Public Works and an APPO sympathizer.
For more information check out these websites:
Indymedia, Mexico (Español)
Indymedia Mexico, Desalojo Oaxaca (Español)
Centro de Medios Libres, DF (Español)
Indymedia, Chiapas (Español)
Granito de Arena: Award-winning Seattle filmmaker, Jill Freidberg (This is What Democracy Looks Like, 2000), spent two years in southern Mexico documenting the efforts of over 100,000 teachers, parents, and students fighting to defend the country's public education system from the devastating impacts of economic globalization. Freidberg combines footage of strikes and direct actions with 25 years worth of never-before-seen archival images to deliver a compelling and unsettling story of resistance, repression, commitment, and solidarity.
The pictures in this post were taken by Sasha Hammad. Thank you to her.
With several projects in the works and a massive benefit gallery show just behind us, Visual Resistance is in the red. While we've fundraised for other groups or friends in the past, we've never used this site to ask donations for VR projects. So, if you like what Visual Resistance does and can spare a few dollars -- or more! -- please consider clicking the button below:
Street Art Workers (SAW) is a national network of some of the best printmakers and street artists working today. This year's campaign is a major step forward for the group, as it's their first foray into mass production. The end result of nearly a year´s work will be 3,000 sets of a gorgeous, two-color, newspaper-sized booklet of 25 posters from artists from over 20 cities in 10 countries!
In other words, SAW is producing almost 65,000 large posters for free distribution around North America and beyond. If you want to see these posters on the walls of your city, help SAW and VR out by chipping in.
Below is a sneak preview of six of the 25 posters from this year's campaign:
On Saturday, July 29, members of the Borf Brigade threw a roving street party in Washington, DC. Agents Q and fi5e from the Graffiti Research Lab built a bike-mounted sound system and (of course) documented the whole extravaganza. Check out their video of the party here.
The Borf Brigade also released a video communique, explaining the philosophy of Borfismo and officially expanding the Borf conspiracy by announcing the commencement of Operation: Twist & Shout.
Through the story of the original Borf, a teenager and friend of future brigade members who committed suicide in October 2003, the communique makes a compelling case that depression is a social problem with roots in the alienation of consumer capitalism and repression of suburban isolation. It's a beautiful statement that in the end keeps its sense of humor and hope intact.
Video and a full transcript below the fold. Trust me: you don't want to miss this one.
--- Quicktime plugin needed to view video.
--- To download the Communique, right-click here: http://visualresistance.org/B_BRIGADE_COMM_WEB.mov (33MB Quicktime file)
Full text: Borf Brigade Video Communique
Hello, my name is not important. The following is a statement written by the delinquents of the Borf Brigade.
Recently, the press has made much hullaballoo on the capture of minor Borfist John Tsombikos. This member is henceforth purged.
On October 22nd, 2003 our friend Borf hung himself from a basement pipe in a suburb of the nation's capital. This was not a solitary act. Over 30,000 people in the US alone fall victim to this conspiratorial violence. It is the 3rd leading killer of young people, ages 15-24, and outnumbers homicides 3 to 2. This epidemic cannot be medicated into remission. It is not a problem confined to our family bloodline. "Trouble at home" is not the only trigger for depression.
People like [D.C.] Mayor Anthony Williams and developer Jim Abdo who maintain the gentri-fucking of our neighborhoods, establish 10 o'clock curfew laws targeting youth, ultimately deciding D.C.'s fate without the consent of its residents; as well as politicians and CEO's around the world--these are the conspirators who would rather see us fight their wars and work in their sweatshops than see us develop and build supportive communities and relationships. They would rather see homeless shelters be turned into condos and would rather profit off of our misery through the funding of programs that stifle our creativity and imagination than spend a dime on programs that empower youth and give us the tools to think independently. Given these offenses, would anyone be surprised that so many young people feel so worthless? The message is clear: Leurs actions systematiquement se rendent a la perpetuatien de notre isolement et notre condition de precarite'.
These feelings of powerlessness and alienation, which are characteristics of living in an abusive culture, can be paralyzing and debilitating, leaving youth with few options. Either we can give up and self-destruct or realize our anger and frustration through property destruction and other anti-social acts. Graffiti for us was merely the expression of our frustration, an act in retaliation for Borf's destruction. We needed to make our discontent visible. We have destroyed countless thousands of dollars worth of property as have our Parisian counterparts and the frustrated youth of the world who are forced to make a decision to either fall or destroy that which is pushing.
Rather than fall into quiet despair, we shall purple the proverbial nurple of the grey matter at hand. As our nurples have endured incessant purplings in untold schools, malls, courtrooms, office buildings and even while we walk home, we will no longer idly abide by bouts of unbearable purple nurpling.
Today begins Operation: Twist & Shout.
--WE TWIST, YOU SHOUT--
Twist & Shout will make you uncomfortable. For every rush hour Metro delay, dropped cell phone call, jammed coin return, mysterious odor, Borf will be involved. We will reface every wall, rhyme on every stall and have the gall to have a blast.
Borf is alive and well. How are you?
We've just updated the page for the Daniel McGowan benefit, and have artwork available for purchase online from Swoon, Armsrock, and Eelus, plus a DVD from the Barnstormers and original prints by Kristine Virsis, Claude Moller, Magmo the Destoyer, Nicolas Lampert, and Eric Ruin.
Click here to check it out. More artwork will be added to the sale page in the next few days, so keep checking back!
I've always felt that this site is a little to NYC-centric, so it's great to have photos of brilliant work from Milwaukee! What's going on where you are? Send photos and stories to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!
The If They Come For You In The Morning art show was a huge success and we raised more money for Daniel McGowan's legal defence than we ever thought we could. Thank you to all the artists who generously donated their work, to everyone who came out to support the show, and to all the volunteers who were patient with our sweaty, grumpy insanity. This event could not have been a success without you!
A particular amount of adoration to our heroes of the past week: Steve Englander and all the ABC No Rio volunteers, Jeffrey and Bluestockings Books, Aaron Thompson & art.les.nyc, Ian Kuali'i, James and Evan of Graffiti Research Labs, Mark and Mattie from Fort Whitey, Jonathan Spies, Thadeaus D. Umpster, Angela Coppola, Mona Mady, Marianne, Eliza Calhoun, Josh MacPhee, Chris Stain, Brandon Bauer, Eric Drooker, Aaron Resen, Callie, Sen, Andrew and Brendan Story from Friends and Family, Cristina Chapman, Melissa Morrone, Meredith Sums, Benjamin Persky, and of course, Jenny Synan & Daniel McGowan.
Boundless thanks to you all of you