MEXICO

Video: Mexico police throw rocks at students

Protesters throwing rocks at police is not uncommon in many parts of the world. But in Mexico, it’s the police that’s throwing rocks at protesters. A video has emerged showing local police hurling rocks at a bus transporting students from the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa, a teachers’ college which has long been a hotbed of protest.

Advertising

Screen grab from the video below.

Protesters throwing rocks at police is not uncommon in many parts of the world. But in Mexico, it’s the police that’s throwing rocks at protesters. A video has emerged showing local police hurling rocks at a bus transporting students from the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa, a teachers’ college which has long been a hotbed of protest. The school became known worldwide after 43 of its students disappeared last year, sparking protests throughout Mexico.

Mid-morning on March 28, dozens of police officers stopped three buses carrying about 50 students from the school. The police started throwing rocks at one of the buses, shattering one of its windows. They then forced the students out of the bus and sprayed them with tear gas. Some of the students tried to get away, but the police beat them with their batons and their shields, injuring at least three of them. Two students were also arrested and detained for several hours.

A video by the Agencia de Noticias Guerrero, published on Youtube, in which you can see policemen throw rocks at a bus full of students (0’22-0’35), then throw students on the ground and beat them (0’35-1’03). Starting at 2’13, the video shows two vehicles burned by other students from the school, in Tixtla (about 15 kilometres away), as a reprisal. 

"The students are victims of systematic repression"

Rodrigo Jimenez (not his real name) studied at the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa between 1995 and 2000. He belongs to an alumni association that is working to defend the school’s students.

What took place on March 28 is an attack on the part of state police, not a “clash” between police and students like some media have reported. This is very clear in the video.

This violence is not new. The Ayotzinapa students and its graduates have been victims of systematic repression on the part of the authorities for years now, long before the 43 students disappeared.

Back in December 2011, two students at the school, Gabriel Echeverría de Jesús and Jorge Alexis Herrera Pino, were shot to death during clashes with police. It’s been like this for two decades… In all, about 50 students and former students have disappeared or been killed. And students regularly receive death threats, or threats to their families.

And it’s continued since the disappearance of the 43: In February, Claudio Castillo Pena, a retired teacher who was also an alumna of the school, died during clashes between police and teachers in Acapulco.

 

“The authorities want to get rid of these schools and their revolutionary spirit”

We believe the authorities’ goal is to get rid of “rural normal” schools, of which there are 16 in Mexico, because they represent the last remnant of the spirit of the Mexican revolution of 1910. At the time, many people died in order for our country to be reformed. [Editor’s Note: In the 1930s, Lázaro Cárdenas’ government reformed a number of sectors, including agriculture and education, and made rural education a priority]. But the governments that followed have done everything they could to dismantle these schools.

This continues today, with liberal reforms being enacted all over the country. Many public services are being privatised, including education. “Normal rural” schools, which are public and free, don’t fit into this picture, which is probably why they’re facing such repression lately. In Mexico, these are the only higher education institutions where students get free lodging. To study in these schools, they must be the children of farmers, they must be poor, and they must want to become teachers. Those are the only conditions.

The Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa, founded in 1926, is particularly annoying to the authorities, because it is a symbol of protest in Mexico. Many great men studied there, including Lucio Cabañas, Genaro Vázquez [two important figures in the guerrilla movement of the 1960s and 70s] and the singer Álvaro Carrillo.

The majority of the 43 students who disappeared last year were in their first year of studies. That means that nearly a whole generation was lost. Now, many parents will no doubt avoid sending their sons to this school…