Mexico: student protests continue in Guerrero

Some 1,000 members of the Federation of Socialist Campesino Students of Mexico (FECSM) blocked the Sun Highway in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero for more than an hour on Dec. 11 to protest plans by state education secretary Jose Luis Gonzalez de la Vega to assign teachers based on an exam administered by the National Evaluation Center. Students from Guerrero teaching colleges and their supporters have been demonstrating since Nov. 14 around demands for 75 additional teaching positions for teaching college alumni and for retention of the degree in primary education.

On Dec. 12 FECSM members joined with students and alumni from the Isidro Burgos de Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College—which has been at the center of the dispute—to occupy one public radio station and two private stations in Chilpancingo, the state capital. Taking over studios, the protesters read a statement denouncing Gonzalez de la Vega’s plan to reduce the number of students in the program for primary school teachers from 140 to 100. The stations included Radio UAG and Maxima, which reaches 52 municipalities. At least 200 students were involved in the Maxima occupation; afterwards they gathered in the Central Alameda, where they had parked the public buses that they took over several weeks earlier.

Carrying crosses and wearing crowns of thorns, on Dec. 14 hundreds of parents and other relatives of Ayotzinapa students marched 17km from Tixtla municipality, where the college is located, to Chilpancingo to support the students’ demands. In Chilpancingo they held a brief sit-in in front of the statehouse. Gonzalo Molina, the uncle of a student protester, called on the students and alumni to stay firm and “not to fall for the game played by [Gov.] Zeferino [Torreblanca Galindo].”

Meanwhile, Gov. Torreblanca, of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), has been trying to mend fences with the state’s social activists. On the evening of Dec. 11 he met with representatives of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Guerrero (APPG) and agreed to review the cases of 43 activists imprisoned since the administration of former governor Ruben Figueroa Alcocer of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The governor also discussed cancelling outstanding arrest warrants against several activists; some of them were participants in the meeting. On Dec. 12 Torreblanca complained in an interview that he was being criticized unfairly for using the police to break up student demonstrations. Other PRD governors, like former Federal District head of government Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, have used riot police, Torreblanca said. But Lopez Obrador “was called a democratic ruler,” while people say “Zeferino is repressive,” according to Torreblanca. (La Jornada, Dec. 12. 13. 15)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 16

See our last posts on Mexico and Guerrero.