cj#1064> Massive Mexico City protest

2000-02-17

Richard Moore

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From: CyberBrook <•••@••.•••>
To: "Social Movements List" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Mexico City protest
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 08:30:23 -0800
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Thursday, February 10 2000

More than 100,000 in Mexico City protest arrest of striking
students

More than 100,000 people demonstrated in Mexico City on
Wednesday to demand the liberation of students arrested when
police regained control of the country's main campus closed
by a nine-month strike.

The demonstration, which included students, parents of the
detainees, trade unions and leftist groups, was the largest
in 12 years in Mexico, and came at the height of campaigning
for July 2 presidential elections.

Chanting "freedom, freedom," the demonstrators demanded the
release of the 85 students still held since police took
control of UNAM's main campus on Sunday.

They held up banners pledging to continue their strike even
though they lost control of the National Autonomous
University of Mexico (UNAM), Latin America's largest
university, which they had blockaded for more than nine
months.

The demonstrators also chanted slogans calling for an end of
the Institutional Ruling Party (PRI)'s 70-year hold on
power.

Chants of "not a vote for the PRI" echoed across the
historic city center as more than 100,000 people -- some
estimates put the number of 150,000 people -- converged on
the central Zocalo square.

The PRI's candidate, ex-Interior Minister Francisco
Labastida is by far the favorite to win the presidential
election. The leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution
(PRD), among those who took part in the protest, trailed far
behind, with opinion polls showing its candidate, ex-Mexico
City Mayor Cuahtemoc Cardenas trailing about 15 points
behind his PRI rival.

It took more than three hours for all protesters to complete
the four-kilometer (2.5-mile) march from the landmark
monument to independence to the Zocalo.

Demonstrators said the protest was similar in size to those
held in 1968, which ended when police opened fire on some
students on October 2 of that year, killing about 300
people.

There was no immediate report of incidents in Wednesday's
march.

Earlier in the day, police handed the UNAM facilities back
to university officials.

A total of 745 people were held as police took control of
university buildings and dismantled barricades. All but 85
of them have since been released.

Rebel leader subcommander Marcos denounced Wednesday what he
described as the jailing of "hundreds of young students in
clear violation of the law, common sense and reason."

"No one can talk of democracy in this country as long as
students fill the jails," said Marcos, leader of the
Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), which continues
to campaign for indigenous rights from its base in the
southern state of Chiapas.

Marcos said in a statement that the EZLN fully supported
protests against the detentions and called for "a national
mobilization to protest the aggression against the national
university."

It was after the failure of previous attempts at dialogue
that the government-level decision was taken to apply for a
court order authorizing Sunday's evictions and arrests.

The most radical group among the students had refused to
accept the results of a referendum conducted by university
authorities on January 20, in which almost 90 percent of
university students and personnel who voted said they wanted
classes to resume.

The strike began last year in protest at plans to introduce
tuition fees in the public university. But students added
new demands after university officials subsequently withdrew
the fees.

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From: CyberBrook <•••@••.•••>
To: "Social Movements List" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Massive demonstration in Mexico City
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 08:41:23 -0800
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[Note: Over one hundred thousand people marched in Mexico
City yesterday in a dramatic demonstration of repudiation to
the police takeover of the UNAM and in support of the
hundreds of students held prisoners. Of course, the
monopolized TV in Mexico did not cover it. The summary below
of the strike and the call for support comes from the
General Strike Council via various websites. Detailed
articles (in Spanish), photos, and political cartoons, may
be found in today's (2/10/2000) web version of La Jornada at
http://unam.netgate.net/jornada/

Gonzalo Santos California State University - Bakersfield

SUMMARY

Approximately ten months ago, the students of the National
Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) voted to go on
indefinite strike to protest plans of then-university
president Francisco Barnés de Castro to charge tuition to
students for the first time (even though free and universal
higher education is a constitutional right, not a privilege,
in Mexico) and to carry out a series of neoliberal reforms
to the institution which were unacceptable to the student
population.

The students managed to force Barnés' resignation late last
year, and they also scored a victory in the cancellation of
the decision to charge tuition. However, negotiations
stalled over the students' demands for a University Congress
to be convened with student participation in order to
discuss the current state of the UNAM and make binding
decisions regarding university policy and the reshaping of
the institution.

In January 2000, UNAM president Juan Ramón de la Fuente
proposed his own plan for a University Congress - but
instead of submitting it as a counterproposal in
negotiations with students, he submitted it to a
"consultation" of the University community. Contrary to what
has been endlessly repeated (incorrectly) in the
international press, less than half of the UNAM student body
took part in the president's "consultation", although many
did support the proposal in the thought that it would lead
to further negotiations. Most did not believe the warnings
of the General Strike Council that the consultation would be
used as justification for military or police intervention in
the UNAM.

That is, in fact, what happened. Armed with the results of
his "consultation", De la Fuente insisted there would be no
further negotiations with the Strike Council until the
strike was called off and classes resumed. Meanwhile, arrest
warrants were issued for student leaders. As they had done
for the past several months, students continually called on
the university administration to sit down at the negotiating
table. But De la Fuente insisted he would only talk about
the conditions for the immediate and unconditional end to
the strike - not

about any of the student demands.

As a prelude of things to come, a violent altercation broke
out in a striking high school affiliated with the UNAM on
February 1st. Provocateurs attempted to violently enter the
school and forcibly expel those inside, both strikers and
anti-strikers, who just moments before had formed a joint
student coalition in defense of general student interests
and in favor of a peaceful and negotiated end to the
conflict at the university. The violence was followed by the
arrival of the unconstitutional Federal Preventative Police
(PFP- a new national police force of army soldiers dressed
in policemen's clothes), who proceeded to take over the
school and arrest 251 students. Many were roughed up and
some were beaten during their detention.

One week later, in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, February 6,
more than 2,000 members of the PFP invaded the main campus
of the UNAM, in flagrant violation of university autonomy,
and arrested 745 students and professors.

Although most of those arrested have since been released,
more than 300 are still imprisoned, and at least 264 are
facing criminal charges, some of which are severe, for their
participation in the student movement. Meanwhile, the
crackdown continues, as 395 arrest warrants for student
leaders not yet detained are still in effect.

The following is a statistical summary of the current
situation of the student prisoners, followed by a list of
names of those still in jail for standing up for their
rights and their university.

    * Total number of persons detained on February 1 and
      February 6 during the illegal intervention of the Federal
      Preventative Police (a militarized national police force) on
      the campuses of the National Autonomous University of
      Mexico: 998

    * Total number of persons freed since: 656

    * Total number of students arrested for "flagrant crimes":
      227

    * Total number of students and professors arrested under
      outstanding warrants: 37

    * Total number of students and professors facing criminal
      charges: 264

    * Charges filed against them (varying by case):terrorism,
      looting/"dispossesion", riot, sabotage, violations of the
      Federal Law of Firearms and Explosives, criminal
      association, robbery, and damages.

    * Total number of minors currently imprisoned under the
      custody of the Protective Council of Minors: 78

    * Total number of political prisoners from the UNAM: 342

    * Total number of students with outstanding warrants for
      their arrest, who could be detained at any moment: 395

Source: Mexican Attorney General's Office

                                             * * * * * * * * * *

What You Can Do to Help

The international press spoke of the military-police
takeover of the UNAM as "nonviolent" and "surprisingly
smooth". It did not mention that such action was illegal.
Nor has it bothered to mention the 998 detentions, the 342
students still imprisoned, the 264 students facing criminal
charges, the 85 students accused of terrorism, and the
witch-hunt currently underway against leaders of the
ten-month old movement.


The message of the Mexican government is that fighting for
free education, as guaranteed in the Mexican Constitution,
or struggling for greater student voices in university
affairs, is legally equivalent to being a terrorist and a
sabateur. This message must not go unanswered.

From outside Mexico, the most important thing you can do to
help free the prisoners is to put pressure on the Mexican
government, to let them know that you are aware of the
situation at the UNAM, and to tell them that thousands of
people from around the world condemn the attempt to use
force to crush the student movement; insist on a real
dialogue between the General Strike Council (CGH) and the
university authorities; and demand the immediate and
unconditional liberation of all 342 political prisoners, as
well as the cancellation of the 432 arrest warrants
currently in effect against leaders of the student movement.

Also, contact your deputies, ministers, and representatives
in Parliament or Congress to inform them of the decision of
the Mexican government to use repression and force against a
legitimate student movement expressing basic educational
demands. Ask them to convey your wish that your country not
engage in commerce with nations whose governments imprison
their students by the hundreds instead of talking with them
to find a resolution to their grievances.

The contact information for important Mexican government
figures is below. Please send them emails, faxes, letters,
and phone calls:

      Dr. Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León
      Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
      Palacio Nacional
      Patio de Honor, Piso 1, Col. Centro
      06067 México DF
      Tel (525)-395 67 00, 272 69 03, 515 57 14
      Fax (525) 52 77 23 76
      •••@••.•••
      Webpage: http://www.presidencia.gob.mx

      Lic. Diodoro Carrasco Altamirano
      Interior Minister
      Bucareli 99 piso1 Col. Juarez
      México, D.F. 06699
      Tel: (525) 7 05 21 71
      Fax: (525) 7 03 21 71

      Dr. Jorge Madrazo Cuellar
      Attorney General
      Ave. Reforma esq. Violeta
      Mexico, D. F. C.P. 06300
      Tel: (525) 626 44 26
      Fax: (525) 3 46 09 57

      Dr. José Luis Soberanes Fernández
      President of the National Human Rights Commission
      Periferico Sur 3469, Col. San Jerónimo Lidice
      10200, México, D.F.
      Tel: 631 00 40, 6 81 81 25
      Fax: 6 81 71 99, 6 81 92 39
      Lada sin costo desde México: 01 800 00 869
      Email: •••@••.•••
      Email: •••@••.•••

The addresses, emails, phone and fax numbers of Mexican
diplomatic installations (Embassies, consulates, etc.)
around the world are located at
http://www.sre.gob.mx/delegaciones/ courtesy of the Foreign
Affairs Office of the Mexican government.

Finally, send a message to the General Strike Council at
•••@••.••• expressing your support for their cause.

Freedom for all the political prisoners of the UNAM!


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Richard K Moore
Wexford, Irleand
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance
email: •••@••.•••
CDR website: http://cyberjournal.org
cyberjournal archive: http://members.xoom.com/centrexnews/
book in progress: http://cyberjournal.org/cdr/gri/gri.html

                A community will evolve only when
                the people control their means of communication.
                        -- Frantz Fanon

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