Violent gangs target student protesters at Mexico university

Student protests at Mexico’s largest institution turn violent after ‘shock groups’ sent by rogue authorities

September 14, 2018
UNAM sign
Source: Getty
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More than 40 violent “shock groups” set up to keep tabs on student activities are said to be operating across Mexico’s largest university’s campuses, according to Mexico City government officials.

In the wake of more student attacks, officials from Mexico City’s National Autonomous University of Mexico (Unam) have warned that so-called “porros” (hooligans) are often disguised as student associations connected to the university. In fact, they work under the command of rogue university staff or politicians and are connected to Mexico’s longstanding history of gang-related politics, local news reports explain.

The revelations follow a series of protests conducted by students this month over a lack of security on campus. A small demonstration on 3 September turned violent when around 40 people arrived with sharp weapons, sticks, stones and petrol bombs.

Fourteen protestors – several believed to be minors – were injured, including one serious stabbing and one person who lost an ear.

In response to the attack, tens of thousands of students from various institutions across the region took part in wider demonstrations, calling on Enrique Graue, Unam’s rector, to take action to report the perpetrators and secure the university site.

The security of the University City site – which is autonomous from state or political control – has been heavily contested in recent months. In February last year, two students were shot and killed on campus, and there has since been a series of other violent incidents.

Issuing a statement in light on the most recent events, Professor Graue condemned the porros’ activity as “barbarous and brutal”.

Evidence has been passed on to Mexico City police, he added, to assist in their ongoing investigations.

rachael.pells@timeshighereducation.com

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