Rector dispute fuels fee strike

December 24, 1999

MEXICO CITY

Students who have been instrumental in closing down the National Autonomous University of Mexico for the past seven months in a dispute over tuition fees have accused the government of direct interference in the appointment of a new rector.

Juan Ramon de la Fuente, former minister of health in the present government, was chosen unanimously by UNAM's governing body from a list of six candidates that included four internal candidates and a deputy minister of health.

He replaced Francisco Barnes de Castro, who resigned last month and whose attempt to introduce fees for those students who do not reach minimal academic standards started the dispute.

After unsuccessful attempts to negotiate with students behind the strike, the former rector and the university council decided last July to abandon the attempt to introduce fees.

Nevertheless, the students have maintained the strike. The Consejo General de Huelga - the student group in control of the university - continues to demand radical change in the institution.

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