Mexico: Student Protests Over Free Market Policies Spread

Publisher Name: 
Associated Press

MEXICO CITY -- Administrators started returning to Mexico's
largest university Tuesday, two days after a police raid
ended a 9-month occupation by striking students.

But while courts freed most of the 745 people arrested in
Sunday's raid, the turmoil at the National Autonomous
University spilled into national politics and onto other
campuses in the Mexican capital.

Students at other city universities demonstrated in favor of
strikers still imprisoned.

Mexico City's leftist mayor, Rosario Robles, appeared in
television advertisements to denounce the federal raid on
the 270,000-student school known by Spanish acronym, UNAM.
She demanded freedom for all those arrested.

"To avoid making Mexico City a victim of a conflict ... it
is urgent that the Federal Preventative Police leave the
university installations and that the detained students be
freed," said Robles, herself a UNAM graduate.

With a presidential election in July nearing, federal
officials suggested Robles' opposition-party city government
had shirked its responsibility by refusing to help retake
the school.

The federal police on Tuesday turned over several parts of
the campus to university officials, who drove past
barricades to tour structures emblazoned with revolutionary
slogans. Some buildings had been carefully maintained by
strikers; others had been looted and were strewn with
garbage.

The federal attorney general's office announced that 579 of
the adults arrested Sunday had been freed, though some might
face other charges. Another 77 minors were turned over to
the juvenile court system.

Still in jail were 89 strike leaders and supporters, mostly
on charges of seizing public buildings or theft. Another 86
people have been held on various charges since a violent
clash on Jan. 26 at one of the university's high schools.
Late Tuesday, 85 of those suspects were ordered held for
trial and one was released.

The strike began last April to protest an increase in UNAM's
minimal tuition and other reforms. University officials
quickly backed off on the tuition issue, but radicals
controlling the strike committee pressed ahead with the
strike, seeing it as part of a struggle against free-market
economic policies.

Insisting on freedom for those arrested, faculty and
students on Tuesday staged a one-day strike of support at
another school, the Metropolitan Autonomous University's
campus in northwestern Mexico City.

Students at the two other campuses of that university, which
has about 45,000 students in all, also were voting on
whether to join the demonstration.

Hundreds of members of the UNAM strike committee met Monday
in a plaza at the Metropolitan campus in southern Mexico
City, denouncing the police raid and pledging to continue
the strike.

"We have confidence in our comrades, knowing that no one
with a minimum of dignity and conscience would set foot in a
classroom taken violently by military police in violation of
the university's autonomy," the strike council said in a
statement.

UNAM Rector Juan Ramon de la Fuente has urged officials to
drop charges against those arrested Sunday or at least to be
lenient.

But when asked whether officials would show goodwill with an
amnesty, Interior Secretary Diodoro Carrasco told reporters
Tuesday: "This is not a problem of goodwill; it is a problem
of application of the law. It is a problem of maintaining
order, and political and social stability."

AMP Section Name:CorpWatch