Protestas y Demonstraciones

It started this morning in my 4o Magisterio class… some of the students said that Diego Ricardo’s grandmother had died.

Towards the end of class, some of the students from 1o básico came in asking for “collaborations” (colaboraciones). The kids in 4o argued that Ricardo was their [something] and so they should be in charge of collaborations. So the primero kids agreed to leave the money for the cuarto kids to manage.

I asked the students what the money was for, and they said that they were going to bring it to Ricardo’s house as a gift since his grandmother had died. They were going during the next period, since that was the class he taught to them.

In tercero, about 15 minutes into class, Julio came in and announced that class was canceled until 10 (when recess officially ends) so that we could all go as a school together to Ricardo’s family’s house.

Some of my students from cuarto found me on the street and grabbed my arm– she said that she stayed with Ricardo’s family (or in a house next to them?) so she knew where to go. She is actually from Tiaktak– just boards in town to go to school.

At Ricardo’s family’s house, the family (many old women… about 10, 5 men) were outside sitting on the stoop/street with a microphone. The house was two buildings: one two-storey concrete structure with a balcony, painted brightly, and one adobe structure to the right of it. Dogs and pigs running around.

Visitors (in this case– the entire school) took turns speaking on the microphone. Julio presented gifts from the school… Veronica presented a big bag of sugar that the cuarto kids had purchased with the collaborations.

Ricardo stood with the people from the school, not with the family…

I stood in the street with the cuarto kids, and then we were offered chairs in a building across the street. The family made a speech on the microphone.

veronica gave me a néctar de manzana… most kids are talking amongst themselves, younger ones are playing

Dogs started fighting… an older woman in a huipile beat them off with knotted ropes. There were fires going in the house… smoke coming from the adobe structure. Women wore head dressings…. the entire family lived in these buildings?

Eulalia said that the family would be there all day to accept visitors.

We were there 10-15 minutes total

Julio called the teachers together on the street and asked if we wanted to go show support for a protest at the Municipal palace. Eulalia said that there were people that were not letting construction vehichles pass on their property, and people were protesting. We were going to show support. It had nothing to do with the funeral, they said.

We walked up to the municipal building together. Some people were making speeches in Chu’j… most kids/ teachers were milling around and talking. Police with guns… ladinos…. first time i’ve seen them

we went from there (as a group) up the big hill towards the cemetary. apparently this is where they were not letting tractors pass…

i asked the students what was being protested… they said that they were trying to build a new highway through town, with two lanes so that two cars could pass at the same time, and paved. a woman living at the top of the hill did not want them to build it, because they would have to use her land.

the crowd congregated outside of the woman’s house, at the corner by the cemetary. kids climbing on the gate… the woman wore a san mateo huipile, and spoke very strongly in Chu’j with men in cowboy hats and jeans surrounded her… people lined the street and milpa accross from the house.

one man has a sledge hammer… a couple of my students take it and are playing with it

police down the hill a bit from the crowd— about 60-70 people total. mostly men. some women with kids, mostly standing in the milpa. some students paying attention, some fighting (play) in the background. several of my students climbing on the gate to the woman’s house.

Magdalena from cuarto gives me a chocobanano.

Julio and other teachers standing off to the side– truck coming downhill and stops just before the crowd. 15 minutes later, a bus comes up the hill, stops on the other side of the crowd and blares it’s horn. ends up reversing back down the hill.

i asked students what they thought about the protest– they said that the woman should allow them to build the highway, because they need a better road through town, with new pavement and wide enough for two cars to pass.

Chat goes and talks to Julio… we head back to school. I wanted to stay!!

Ladino police and construction workers stare at me as we walk down!

Julio stops and talks to the police for a second…

I ask Julio and Eulalia what was going on, to confirm. Eulalia repeats that the gov’t is building a new road with two lanes so that two cars can pass at once, and new pavement. they need part of that woman’s land to build it, but she won’t let the construction vehicles pass. i asked if the gov’t pays her for the land, and Eulalia said no, because the road was for the use of all the citizens.

Julio said that they would widen the road all the way through town. i asked what the business owners on either side thought of that, and he said he didn’t know. probably they would have to tear down one side of the buildings to make way for the road…

The whole situation struck me as very interesting… cancelling classes, first of all. It seems like that happens quite a bit! Valentine’s day classes are also canceled so we can all go on a field trip all day.

It almost seemed that, with the “protest,” Julio was just looking for an excuse to keep classes cancelled, since we were only 15 minutes at Ricardo’s family’s house.

We lament so much how little knowledge the kids have… how much potential there is to teach them, how much they need to be taught. But– they have a different kind of knowledge, i think. Different from our normal concept of “elementary school education” or even “secondary school education”…


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