Progressive Scientists Needed in Mexico

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Progressive Scientists Needed in Mexico

by Health Workers & Educators in Oaxaca & Marine Scientists in Baja

‘Science for the People’ Vol. 10, No. 1, January/February 1978, p. 36


Progressive forces in southern Mexico need help from Spanish-speaking health workers. Since early this year, class struggle m the Mexican state of Oaxaca has been fierce. A transport workers’ strike during the winter paralyzed the state. A worker-student alliance mobilized demonstrations in many towns. The army and police killed at least thirty workers and six students. Still organizing among workers, students, and community groups has continued. The government has responded with increasing repression. This struggle has received very little coverage in the U.S. press. 

The University of Oaxaca has entered a process of democratization. A coalition of students workers faculty members, and community representatives eventually will govern the university. In Oaxaca this process is especially important, because the university’s professional schools provide health, legal, and welfare services to low-income communities. The Medical, Dental, and Nursing Schools are undergoing democratization. Students and workers widely support this process. However, some faculty members who oppose democratization are leaving their teaching roles. Students are facing difficulties in obtaining the instruction they need. 

Spanish-speaking health workers in nursing, medicine, dentistry, and allied fields can contribute to this struggle by working in Oaxaca for brief periods of time (weeks to months). Their role would involve teaching and some direct clinical work, partly in rural areas. Arrangements can be made for salary and accommodations as needed. For more information, please send a brief resume and statement of interest to: Oaxaca Support Committee, 51 Pontiac St., Roxbury, MA 02120. 


The Marine Sciences Unit of Baja California State University in Mexico needs science educators interested in continuing the process of democratization of teaching recently begun there by students. 

The Institute is located about 100 miles south of the U.S.-Mexican border in Ensenada, Baja California, and is dedicated to the study of marine science. Started 16 years ago, it has a B.S. program in Oceanography, composed of study in four basic areas: Biology, Chemistry, Geology and Physics. 

Until 18 months ago, the Institute functioned along traditional lines, training professional personnel for service to the Mexican elite. The process of education was structured anti-democratically, producing uncritical, narrow-minded specialists. Since then a group of students and recent graduates has come together to bring about much-needed changes in the process and purposes of the Institute. Successes achieved by the group include:

  • a review and modification of the curriculum to include the study of Political Economy, History of Science, Underdevelopment in the Third World, and other relevant subjects. 
  • a more democratic structure, opening the decision-making process to students and academic and nonacademic workers. 
  • research and teaching can now be done by collective work groups. 

During the course of these reforms, many of the foreign teachers, mostly conservative, left the Institute, so now there is a need for qualified academic personnel to replace them. In order to consolidate recent gains, it is important to fill these posts with people who support democratic and collective structures and other progressive goals. 

At this point, marine geologists are especially needed, but there are also openings for people with a background in fisheries biology (using mathematical models), marine chemistry, physical oceanography and mathematics. Salary is around $800.00 a month. Housing and food costs in this locality amount to 20-40% of salary. 

Interested people should send a letter and curriculum vitae to the Unidad de Sciencias Marinas, c/o Science for the People, 897 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139.

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