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(en) Mexico, UNAM, Movimiento 2000 Update

From "Shannon Young" <shannony77@hotmail.com>
Date Fri, 25 Feb 2000 03:13:01 -0500

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

> From: paz libertad <movimiento_2000@yahoo.com>
Movement 2000, an independent media collective, blasts through the 
information barrier to continue coverage of the conflict in the UNAM:

Freedom to Political Prisoners

Of the over 1,000 students arrested during recent Federal Preventative 
Police (FPF) operations in the National Autonomous University of Mexico 
(UNAM), more than 270 are still in jail. The first 106 imprisoned students 
who were processed by recently appointed judge Maria del Carmen Pérez were 
all judged to be dangers to society, and thus denied bail and forced to 
serve up to 6 months of  jail time while awaiting trial.

Meanwhile, parents of the students in jail flood the streets,  more than 
150,000 marching a human river into the heart of the city,  filling the 
zócalo twice over on Thursday February 9. Accompanied by unions, students, 
indigenous peoples and social organizations,  families demand the immediate 
release of their children, calling on the international human rights 
community and the United Nations to organize to defend the students’ rights. 
Parents recall the memory of the Tlatelolco massacre of 1968, and implore 
civil society to mobilize to end the war against young people. They denounce 
the repeated  violation of the autonomy of the UNAM, and call for the 
defense of public education and  the end of military and police presence in 
the schools.

The jailed students, the majority of whom are members of the General Strike 
Council (CGH), affirm that the student movement is alive and active, even 
though the strike was broken by federal force. Students in and out of the 
cells continue to mobilize to defend the UNAM, the largest and oldest free 
public university in Latin America.  Jailed students organize from within 
their cellblocks, studying, writing and dialoguing with the other prisoners. 
Their parents, many of whom
camp outside of the jail, carry on the struggle outside of prison walls.

The imprisonment of the students has catalyzed a renewal of activism among 
parents and families. Families of the jailed students have united their 
efforts to free their children, each parent declaring
that every jailed student is his or her own child, guilty only of the crime 
of being conscious. “The students are being treated as hostages, they are 
the authority’s booty. Obviously we are going to use all
our strength against this terrorist attitude of the state, hasta la victoria 
siempre!,” declared a father whose 18 year old son is in jail.

The government has responded to the civil society protests by increasing the 
military and police presence in the city and executing a  “witchhunt” 
against groups who support the students. 430 arrest
warrants were issued for other students and activists, and families report 
that they are harassed by police vigilantes. The  students lawyer, Juan de 
Dios Hernández has received an arrest warrant as well as several death 
threats. Students have been arbitrarily detained in the streets and arrested 
under accusations that they are members of the Zapatista Army for National 
Liberation (EZLN) and the Popular
Revolutionary Army (EPR). One student who had received a scholarship to 
attend University of California at Berkeley was arrested outside of the US 
embassy when he applied for his visa. Another student was arrested outside 
of an interview with Television Azteca in which he called for unity and the 
release of the prisoners. Many students and families have been forced to 
abandon their homes, living underground to protect themselves.

Parents denounce that the students are being illegally detained and 
tortured. Both female and male students report that they were strip 
searched, beaten and groped by groups of policemen who threaten to rape 
them. Students have been extensively interrogated by Federal Judicial Police 
and elements of the Federal Preventative Police (PFP), a military police 
force trained in psychological warfare.

The state controlled corporate media intensifies their unavailing attack on 
the legitimacy of the students and the movement. They portray the strikers 
as “delinquents,” “criminals,” and terrorists,” falsely accusing them of 
destroying school property and attacking university officials. The official 
message to the international press is that a clean effective police 
operation recuperated the school from a small group of radical terrorists, a 
version disputed by students who ask, “If we are such a small group, then 
why after arresting 1,000 people, can they still not detain the movement?”

The Attorney General’s Office publicly accused the students of  terrorism, 
sabotage, riot, sedition, assault and robbery.  The robbery charges were 
filed by PFP elements who claim the students stole their
helmets, shields and nightsticks while they were being arrested by 2,600 PFP 
elements. During the PFP occupation of the UNAM in dawn of February 6, 
students, many of whom were sleeping when the troops
arrived, offered no resistance to the military police, sitting down and 
singing when they arrived.

After a 42 hour occupation, the PFP suddenly evacuated the UNAM. The Rector 
of the UNAM, Dr. Juan Ramon de La Fuente, eager to get back to business, 
entered the campus at once, surrounded by a swarm of journalists and 
bodyguards. Contract cleaning workers had been hired to disinfect the 
schoolgrounds and a group of med students have been called in to cheer when 
the rector arrived. Janitors painted over the students’ murals with black 
paint and whitewashed the words on the walls. A father of a jailed student 
commented on the dizzying clean up effort, “It seems like our children do 
not exist. Our children are in jail, and the business leaders say they 
deserve it. I think the only solution is dialogue, always has been dialogue, 
but true dialogue, not dialogue as a pretext for beating them.”

Another father continues, “It seems to me that when the kids arrived at the 
dialogue they still had not fallen in the provocation to not go to the last 
talk, they went with complete openness and what they found out was that 
there was already instructions to beat them, that the federal police, whose 
function we do not know, but they showed us that their first action was 
social dissolution, that they are making a police to come to beat our 
children, the society, to create an environment of fear, an environment of 
terror in the people.” The decision to invade the UNAM already existed when 
the rector called the students to a “last chance dialogue” the day before 
the PFP invaded the campus, applying the government policy of increasing 
repression to pressure dialogue.

UNAM Economics Professor and CGH advisor, Alfredo Velarde, analyzes the 
official strategy: “The government scorned the struggle of the students and 
then applied the same strategy that they do with the Zapatistas. Since the 
beginning of the student movement, they let the conflict rot, then feigned 
dialogue, and refused to fulfil the agreements which they signed, as 
happened with the San Andres Accords.
Next, they accused the students of being uncompromising and intolerant, 
after which they justified the repression with the paramilitary occupation 
of the UNAM, as they also did with the EZLN
on February 9, 1997.” Four years ago, on February 16, 1996, the same 
government and the Zapatista National Army of Liberation signed the San 
Andres Accords, an indigenous rights agreement that the government has 
refused to honor. The same man, José Narro Robles, signed the December 
agreements with the CGH in which the government agreed to resolve the 
university conflict with dialogue and not state force.

Javier Eloriaga, head of the Zapatista Front for National Liberation, 
explains: “The conflict of the UNAM is very much linked to Chiapas, and thus 
many people are alerting  and saying “watch out” because
letting them get away with all this bullshit that they doing here will 
prepare the way for a similar solution in Chiapas. It’s the same thing, they 
dialogue to buy time and in the end they finish it up with brutal force, 
negotiate to buy time and see who they can beat up in the meantime. With the 
difference that down there, they are armed. The General Strike Council is an 
open civilian movement that does not have arms, everybody knew that, and for 
that reason it was easy to evict them but not finish them off, but down 
there no, there they are an army and so it is potentially more dangerous. 
Now if you don’t mobilize for the freedom of all the UNAM prisoners and for 
fulfillment of the UNAM agreement, then what you are saying is that they can 
keep acting like this, in the end in this country he who has the force wins 
and that’s that.”

In recent days, the army has invaded at least 6 Zapatista communities in the 
municipality of Ocosingo: Puebla Vieja, Puebla Nueva, La Florida, Nueva 
Esperanza, San Miguel Chiptic, and 10 de Abril. Dozens of tanks and military 
trucks carrying hundreds of armed elements of the Mexican army and the State 
Police of Public Security invaded the communities, occupying the town 
centers, and arresting townspeople.
Government negotiator, Emilio Rabasa,  has called for the “last chapter” of 
dialogue with the Zapatistas, while the army closes in on the jungle and 
surrounds communities.


The imprisoned students and their families call on the civil society to 
unite in their resistance efforts. They urge the international community to 
realize acts of solidarity such as demonstrations at the Mexican Embassies, 
hunger strikes, and student strikes.

There is also great need for cameras, videocameras, tape recorders, 
videocassettes, film and other materials in order to complete the human 
rights documentation work both in the city and in indigenous
communities all over Mexico. If you or someone you know is interested in 
donating media equipment, please contact us at: Movimiento_2000@yahoo.com

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