Violence in Chiapas leaves thousands of children unable to go to school

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Education unions and human rights organizations denounce that the closure of hundreds of schools due to the siege of organized crime generates more inequality, poverty and social exclusion

The escalation of violence in Chiapas has left as a side effect that thousands of students cannot go to classes. Clashes, kidnappings and murders marred the beginning of the school year last August, a situation that continues a month later and has worsened in the Sierra Madre region and the border with Guatemala, in the south of the State. Education organizations in the State point out that more than 5,000 teachers have suspended their work and that some 150,000 primary, secondary and upper secondary school students have been left without going to class. However, the lack of official data prevents the problem from being fully assessed.

What happens in Chiapas is just the tip of the iceberg of something that also happens in Guerrero, Michoacán, Tamaulipas, Sinaloa, Veracruz and other states plagued by crime. “We know of cases in which teachers are threatened and charged for a flat fee to be able to work. Many teachers had to leave those communities,” says Pedro Hernández, general secretary of Section 9 of the CNTE.

Not going to school not only affects the right to education of children and young people; It impacts their psychological and emotional stability and their ability to carve out a future far from precariousness, forced recruitment and the increasingly deep roots of organized crime. “The right to a life free of violence is a key right that gives children stability, access to other rights and greater opportunities,” says Juan Martín Pérez, coordinator of Tejiendo Redes Infancia in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Last weekend, images of a caravan of armed men from the Sinaloa Cartel received with applause by the inhabitants of Frontera Comalapa and San Gregorio Chamic raised alarm bells about the presence and control of the Sinaloa Cartel in several municipal capitals. The silence of the state authorities at that time highlighted the institutional abandonment of one of the poorest entities in the country, until now perceived as relatively quiet. Days later, the López Obrador Government announced the sending of 1,500 National Guard agents to the border to reinforce the security strategy; However, the suspension of classes remains.

Given the lack of guarantees and the few benefits they receive, the teachers of the municipalities of Honduras de la Sierra, Siltepec, El Porvenir, Mazapa de Madero, Motozintla and Mendoza, in the Chiapas mountains, have indicated that they will not return to classes until changes the situation. Nor in Parral, Altamirano, Frontera Comalapa and Comalapa, as confirmed by the Ministry of Education to Animal Político. “We cannot put the physical and psychological integrity of students, parents, teachers and society in general at risk. Therefore, until they guarantee us the necessary social security conditions, we will not return to our work,” can be read in a statement published by the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE) and the National Coordinator of Education Workers. Education (CNTE) on September 15. The letter is addressed to Governor Rutilio Escandón and the Secretary of Education of Chiapas, Rosa Aidé Domínguez, who have not commented on the matter. “As CNTE we ask the Government to do whatever is necessary to guarantee free transit so that teachers can practice their profession,” says Pedro Hernández.

“The conditions for going to school have changed after 17 years of war in the country,” explains Juan Martín Pérez. “Going to school can represent a risk in your life, not only of armed aggression, but of forced recruitment, especially in high school. In these circumstances, the right to education is totally secondary because what matters is protecting your life,” adds the specialist. Pérez points out that living in a context like this develops a code of relationships between children and adolescents where violence is normalized and becomes a way to resolve conflicts.

It also affects learning, increases bullying, substance use and encourages school dropouts. As Pérez points out: “Violence is incorporated into the personality of students as a code of conduct.” Pedro Hernández points out that hundreds of schools throughout the country are experiencing these dramatic circumstances. “We are losing very valuable generations and although we have made great progress in basic education schooling, in secondary and higher education the figures are alarming. Only out of 100 children who start primary school, four or five finish a university degree.”

Source: El Pais