Mexico: police shoot student protester

On Oct. 30 Mexico’s Public Security Secretariat (SSP) announced that it had put two federal police agents “at the disposal” of Public Ministry officials investigating the shooting of a college student the evening before near the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez (UACJ) campus in the northern state of Chihuahua. José Darío Alvarez Orrantía, a sociology student at UACJ, was hit in the abdomen as dozens of students marched in the 11th Walk Against Death in Ciudad Juárez, an opening event in a three-day conference treating the dramatic surge in violence in northern Mexico. Alvarez Orrantía was reported in stable condition at the city’s General Hospital after emergency surgery the night of Oct. 29 that included the removal of about one-third of his intestine.

According to a communiqué from the SSP, federal police agents in two patrol cars were taking a suspect to the Public Ministry when “they encountered various persons” at Plutarco Elías Calles avenue and Hermanos Escobar street, “among them some with their faces covered, for which reason the federal agents got out of the patrol cars and fired in the air in a preventive and warning manner.” The communiqué does not explain how Alvarez Orrantía came to be shot. (La Jornada, Mexico, Oct. 30, Oct. 31)

The conference—the International Forum Against Militarization and Violence organized by the local Plural Citizen Front coalition—was intended to open dialogue about the use of federal troops in the “war on drugs” declared by President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa shortly after taking office in December 2006. According to one of the organizers, Julián Contreras Álvarez, the militarization of the fight against drug trafficking is intended to repress and contain social movements and put down disturbances caused by the economic crisis. He said the policy has been an incentive and a direct cause of the violence that the border region is now suffering.

The Walk Against Death is a weekly event commemorating victims of the violence; the Oct. 29 walk was for 14 local youths gunned down at a party in the Horizontes Sur neighborhood on Oct. 22 by an unidentified armed group. (El Diario, Ciudad Juárez, Oct. 28)

UACJ Javier Sánchez Carlos said on Oct. 30 that officials from various universities had sent messages of solidarity and had protested the acts of “barbarity” by federal forces. One of the first messages came from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM), where two graduate students were gunned down by federal troops on March 19. (LJ, Oct. 31)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 31.

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