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From "samizdat.net" <samizdat@ecn.org>
Date Thu, 24 Feb 2000 08:50:26 +0100
Subject globe_l: Mexico - Freedom to Political Prisoners

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 PÈrez 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
zÛcalo 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 students¼
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
authority¼s booty. Obviously we are going to use all our strength against
this terrorist attitude of the state, hasta la victoria siempre!,¾ 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  „witchhunt¾
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 Hern·ndez
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,¾ „criminals,¾ and terrorists,¾ 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?¾

The Attorney General¼s 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 students¼ 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.¾

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.¾ The decision to invade the UNAM already existed when
the rector called the students to a „last chance dialogue¾ 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, 1997.¾ 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, JosÈ 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 out¾ because letting them
get away with all this bullshit that they doing here will prepare the way
for a similar solution in Chiapas. It¼s 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 don¼t mobilize for the freedom of all the UNAM prisoners and for
the 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 that¼s that.¾

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 chapter¾ 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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