Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Mexico’s students today and the spirit of ’68

Together with Héctor Agredano Rivera, I translated an analysis by Edgard Sánchez Ramírez of the Partido Revolucionario de Trabajadores on the student mobilizations that emerged in response to a recent incident on the UNAM campus in Mexico City that was just published by Socialist Worker.

Earlier this month, 50 years after the state massacre of students involved in a pro-democracy movement in 1968, students at Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM) in Mexico City went on strike to protest a September 3 campus attack against protesters, in which two students were seriously injured.
The horrific attack was carried out in broad daylight by a violent group of hooligans, known as “porros.” In response, a massive, strong student movement has emerged, coinciding with the anniversary of the emergence of the student movement of 1968.
Historically, porros emerged as hooligans linked to American football teams in Mexico’s universities and high schools. However, they are associated with state violence. During 1968, porros were controlled by the military. Later, they became agents of the state, serving the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). In recent years, porros have operated as thugs for hire, and some of their leaders have posts in government and university administrations.
The recent attacks took place in the main campus of UNAM, in front of the administrative building and with collusion of security and university authorities. These provocateurs sought to disperse a small protest by high school students. (UNAM’s campuses have some 350,000 students, with 115,000 at the equivalent of high school level.)
The reaction from students has been decisive. The violent attack has unleashed a new student movement demanding action to uproot these right-wing gangs from the universities, as well as the resignation of university authorities complicit in the attacks.
(This is Héctor's introduction. The text of the statement is available online.)