Mexico’s ‘indignados’ demand change

Frontera NorteSur

Like young people the world over, Mexican youth taking to the streets in demand of jobs, education and a new economic order. This past week, thousands of Mexican students staged demonstrations for a better future in the Pacific coast states of Nayarit, Colima and Guerrero.

The actions took place in the days surrounding the traditional anniversary commemorations of the Oct. 2, 1968, Mexico City massacre of pro-democracy students by Mexican soldiers and paramilitaries.

In Nayarit, an entity ravaged by violence between warring organized crime organizations, public safety also emerged as a principal demand of 5,000 students who protested in the state capital of Tepic under the slogans “No More Deaths” and “No More Ninis.” The latter demand referred to the legions of Mexican young people — more than 7.2 million strong — according to the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation, who neither work nor study.

The Nayarit students criticized state budgetary allocations that prioritize prison expansion at the expense of hospitals and schools. Down the coast, students at the University of Colima likewise demonstrated this week, protesting against federal cuts to basic education and upholding “opportunities, employment and better education for all.”

In Guerrero, meanwhile, 500 students from the Autonomous University of Guerrero (UAG) turned out for an Oct. 3 march in the state capital of Chilpancingo in remembrance of the 1968 student massacre and against the detention of 39 young people, including 23 minors, in connection with a disturbance and property destruction that occurred after a similar demonstration in the same city the previous day. The detainees were released from custody later in the week.

“It is the duty of those of us at the university to not forget what happened on Oct. 2, when they killed students like us,” said student marcher Socrates Cabanas Toledo.

The Guerrero protesters also demanded that Gov. Angel Aguirre deliver more resources to university students. Prospective students refused admission to the UAG, who have waged hunger strikes and protests for weeks now, later participated in an Oct. 5 march in Acapulco along with several thousand striking teachers and sympathizers in support of better security for public schools.

In many respects, the Mexican demonstrations displayed common ground and concerns with the occupations of city  plazas by Spanish young people known indignados, or in polite parlance “the indignant ones;” the mass rebellion of Chilean youth against the privatization of  their educational system; the resistance of Puerto Rican students against soaring tuition costs and police repression; the protests of Italian students against budget cuts;  and the rapidly spreading  “Occupy Wall Street” actions in the United States.

Contrary to CNN’s assertion that just “more than a dozen” US cities are the scenes of “Occupy Wall Street” protests, movement organizers now list hundreds of cities in this country and a total of 899 worldwide (and practically growing by the hour) as places where people have taken to the streets. Some Mexican media outlets are giving the movement broad coverage.

In Mexico, education and jobs continue being hot issues. An example of the crisis was recently dramatized at a job fair in the violence-torn, border city of Ciudad Juárez. Much to the reported surprise of local authorities, an estimated 6,000 mostly young people showed up to apply for 1,500 low-paying positions at border factories. In order to get a shot at a job, some people camped out at the application site overnight. A subsequent scuffle resulted in 13 arrests.

The mother of an 18-year-old who was unable to reach an application table voiced deep frustration at the overall state of affairs.

“Many young people who are just beginning their lives don’t have employment, and the world offers them one thousand pesos to kill a person,” she lamented.

Sources: CNN, October 7, 2011. El Sur/Agencia Reforma, October 7, 2011. NPR, October 6, 2011. AFP, October 6, 2011. Democracy Now, October 6, 2011. La Jornada (Guerrero edition), October 6, 2011. Articles by Margena de La O and  Francisca Meza Carranza.

La Jornada, September 13, 2011; October 4, 2011. Articles by Karina Aviles, Juan Flores, Myriam Navarro and Sergio Ocampo. El Diario de El Paso, September 25, 2011 and October 7, 2011. Articles by Luz de Carmen Sosa and EFE.  El Diario de Juarez, September 24, 2011 and October 7, 2011. Articles by  Nohemi Barraza and Notimex.  Occupytogether.org.

Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico

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