After I finished up at the Agrarian Archive I decided to go to the National Water Commission (Conagua) archive. My logic was that if there was conflict over land, there certainly would have been conflict over water. I was correct. There was conflict over water. But, that was not the most interesting thing that happened to me at this archive. I decided to walk there, since it was about 30 minutes away from my apartment here in Mexico City,
While on my way there, I happened upon a plantón de maestros. That was the first most interesting thing. This is essentially a camp of teachers from the national union who are protesting education reforms. I am, of course, theoretically in favor of unions. I am not in favor of unions as corrupt as this one. I am also not in favor of educational reforms that do not address this corruption, or even take into account the very difficult conditions for many teachers and students in Mexican public schools. There needs to be reform, but of a very different kind.
Moreover, while walking through this urban camp, I began to wonder: for whom is this
convenient? I cannot imagine it is convenient for the teachers, sleeping on streets. It might be convenient for a government that wants to look like it supports striking workers even though it restricts where they can march, and camp out; it might also be convenient for a union to appear to be working with its members; it might be even more convenient for the same government and union to have millions of children without teachers. That is always convenient for authoritarians.
Inside the archive, I kept thinking. The woman in charge was extremely helpful (I recommend this archive highly) and the database was actually useful. This is quite rare. I found most of what I wanted, but I could not find anything to corroborate my suspicion (and newspaper reports) that Mennonite people in Chihuahua are digging too many wells and wells that are too deep, and that in time, there will be no water left. I didn’t really expect to find proof of that, really. But it would have been so cool.