The police have fired tear gas at the students when they tried to enter a facility of the local Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC)
The police of Chiapas, in southeastern Mexico, repressed dozens of students on Monday afternoon who were protesting the release of 19 of their classmates from the Mactumactzá Rural Normal School, who have been detained since May 21 by the local authorities. Regional police agents withdrew tear gas at the students, who according to local media had blocked a major highway in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the state capital.
Videos posted on social media show the outrage of students after the police action. In some images, you can see indigenous women carrying children in their arms, who cry from the effect of the gases. “It is an injustice what is being committed against normal students,” says a woman in one of the videos, broadcast by Indigo Report. “We are going to keep fighting. We are not going to let the government, the police, are repressing us, ”he adds.
Local media report that the confrontation between students and police began after the normalistas attacked the officers with stones and homemade bombs, who responded with tear gas. The authorities ordered a large police deployment in the vicinity of the normal school after some 200 students blocked an important road used by trucks of goods, as a form of pressure to achieve the freedom of their companions, who are being held in the El prison. Amate, located 80 kilometers from Tuxtla Gutiérrez. The clashes continued for several hours with several agents injured by the explosion of a rocket, who required medical attention, reports EFE.
Two weeks ago, a group of 95 students – 74 women and 21 men – from the normal Mactumactzá were arrested during a protest on the toll road between Chiapa de Corzo and the tourist enclave of San Cristóbal de las Casas. The young people, between 18 and 20 years old, were part of a group of 250 normalista students who took several line buses and blocked the toll booth when they were dispersed by the authorities with tear gas and transferred to the separations of the State Prosecutor’s Office. Young people demanded to take the entrance exam for the 2020-2021 school year in person because many do not have access to the Internet in their communities. Relatives of the detainees at that time denounced abuses by the police. According to their version, the officers forced several of the detainees to spend the first night in an overcrowded cell, unable to move. “Apart from the psychological abuse, they were beaten during detention and intimidated with sexual remarks, then they were beaten by the police”,
On the 24th, 74 female students were released, but 19 of their companions are still in prison. The release came shortly after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern about the fate of the detainees.
Monday has been a tense day in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. According to local media, the authorities have denounced that a group of people, who they identify as normalistas, burned down the local headquarters of the National Electoral Institute (INE) during the early morning hours. The tension has remained during the weekend when there were protests for the release of the normalistas. The students have threatened to interfere in the weekend’s elections if the authorities do not release their classmates.
The National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), a union that brings together 600,000 people from the sector, this afternoon rejected the police action against the students, which it described as “an escalation of violence against normalistas.” Members of the CNTE have directly pointed out to the government of Rutilio Escandón Cadenas, of the ruling party Morena, of acting against the normalistas. “The State Government continues on the same route of intimidation, of terrorism,” says Pedro Gómez, secretary-general of the CNTE in Chiapas. “Today the attacks were more accentuated. We have denounced countless times that a policy of deaf ears and constant aggression is applied to any social organization in Chiapas, “added the trade unionist in a telephone interview.
For Gómez, the Escandón government has not shown a willingness to dialogue with the students and listen to their demands, despite the fact that the CNTE and other social organizations have demanded a negotiation. “We do not see the Government with the capacity to sit down and talk. This is a political issue and must be resolved through dialogue. These [imprisoned] boys continue to be hurt psychologically and they are going to be scarred by it all their lives. We ask for immediate, unconditional freedom for them, because they are not criminals, ”says Gómez. Unions such as the CNTE, other social organizations, and Chiapas students have organized a protest for Monday, which will end in a sit-in in the center of Tuxtla Gutiérrez to demand the release of the normalistas.