The 2006 edition of the annual Oaxaca teachers' strike, replete with the defacing of commercial and government buildings in the Centro Histórico, rotating blockades of thoroughfares disrupting essential services such as air travel, supermarket operations and access to medical facilities, and otherwise impacting both tourism and the ability of residents to carry on with their lives, is merely symptomatic of a more serious affliction which has befallen the city over the past two years…the ill-advised and unwarranted expenditure of public funds.|
The paltry salaries which the teachers receive (I've been told between US$600 and US$1200 monthly) assures us that we will continue to have sub-standard quality in the classroom. With graffiti in the city already at epidemic proportions, what kind of educator would permit our children to learn from seeing their maestros damaging and otherwise desecrating the formerly beautiful facade of the government building extending one full block of the zócalo? Our progeny must inevitably be witnessing their role models cutting off the lifeblood of the state---tourism---for months if not years to come, and their parents struggling to cope. The teachers are breeding in their students bitterness, despair and resignation to one's lot in life, rather than hope towards attainable dreams and goals.
With virtually no concern about developing an education system which gives the next generation a vision with a view to breaking a third world mould, the government continues with unbridled spending where we don't need it. Hiring truly qualified teachers both costs, and takes time in terms of seeing the fruits of the investment. And no one benefits other than society. Our present state system permits government to spend millions while at the same time lining the pockets of high ranking government officials and their friends and family. Kickbacks, an inflated and closed tender process, and unnecessary yet splashy public works projects is the order of the day, without any regard for necessity, fiscal restraint or consequence. Government and its officials seize a brief window of opportunity to rape the populace of as much as possible. The four main projects completed or started over the past year and a half are witness: the zócalo, Llano Park, Plaza de La Danza and now the Fuente de Siete Regiones. The results are quick and look impressive. But in each and every case the works have been both unnecessary and unwanted, and have taken away from the spirit, soul and ambiance of the city. Rumors abound about the amounts spent, $60 million being the popular figure for the zócalo facelift alone. The government talks transparencia, or public accountability, but it's nowhere to be found.
|If our current crop of maestros achieves anything significant, it will be their downfall, because if their salaries ever take a leap into the lower stratosphere as they should, all of a sudden brighter and more qualified applicants will appear, and that's where our hope lies. But it won't happen with the current lack of groundswell support. Teachers are supported by the poor and otherwise disenfranchised. They are the only ones who currently care enough to effect change. The middle class is afraid to do anything for fear of losing what it's worked hard to attain. Wealthy residents, while occasionally supporting one side of the other, do not act because they figure that regardless of the outcome, their lot in life and that of their children will not be affected. But once the middle class begins to feel the erosion of their life's energy, and the elite who have created wealth from tourist dollars come to fear that the security of their grandchildren is not guaranteed if the tourist gravy train slows, a uniting of socio-economic classes could occur, spelling, you guessed it. If the former Subcomandante Marcos had secured the support of the "haves" in Chiapas a decade ago, what would the outcome have been? Cuba? What's its literacy rate?|