Monday, April 14, 2008

CCH Vallejo Students Occupy Director's Office

On April 10, 2008, about thirty students and members of the Regeneracion Radio collective occupied the director's office of the Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades Vallejo (Vallejo Sciences and Humanities High School, CCH Vallejo in its Spanish abbreviation), part of the UNAM system in northern Mexico City. Students and radio activists continue their round-the-clock occupation and closure of the avenue outside the director's office, which was sparked by the expulsion of six students. The students want a meeting with the school director to discuss their demands. School authorities' response has been to rally other students to physically attack the occupation.

The director of CCH Vallejo, Lucia Laura Muñoz Corona, seeks the students' expulsion for their participation on April 8 in an on-campus kermesse, a political-cultural fair where students sold food and held a ceremony in which they mocked the institution of marriage and passed out condoms. In retaliation for the kermesse, school authorities and campus security disrupted the student's weekly chess games on April 10. José Refugio Tellez, chief of campus security, threw the chess boards to the ground and threatened to expel the students who were setting them up.

Students organized the kermesse in part to raise funds for Regeneracion Radio. The radio station has had financial difficulties ever since May 2007 when CCH Vallejo banned the on-campus sale of candy in an attempt to bankrupt the Regeneracion Radio collective.

The CCH Vallejo authorities have every reason to want to kick Regeneracion Radio and its student members off campus. The radio was founded as Radio Pacheco in 1999, just before the infamous National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM in its Spanish initials) student strike against tuition increases mandated by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Students started the radio (then just a microphone and a set of loudspeakers) to facilitate student communication during anti-tuition hike organizing and the subsequent strike, which was successful despite brutal repression. Regeneracion Radio has maintained a permanent presence on the CCH Vallejo campus ever since, constructing a permanent radio station where they stream their programs over the internet and broadcast over loudspeakers.

Students continue to use the radio as an organizing tool, fighting for students' rights and democracy on campus. The Regeneracion Radio collective has been instrumental in the constant struggle against porro organizations, which persist in CCH Vallejo and all over the UNAM system despite the fact that they're banned. Porros are a phenomenon that came out of student organizing in the 1960's as a way to circumvent laws that prohibit police presence on campus without the rector's permission. Porro leaders are paid by the government through the time-honored Mexican tradition of budgeting much more money than necessary for public works projects and then using the excess money for politically illicit purposes. These paid leaders then organize students to spy on and attack student organizations. While the lower-level student porros aren't paid, the government offers them legal protection in the form of a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card, allowing them to rob with impunity. Porros roam the streets outside CCH Vallejo, mugging students as they enter and leave campus, often beating them in the process. Porros have also attacked Regeneracion Radio, destroying their radio equipment on several occasions.

Regeneracion Radio and student allies are refusing to vacate the director's office until the following demands are met:
1. No reprisals against students, workers, and professors who participate in or join the movement.

2. The firing of Director Lucia Laura Muñoz Corona for her inability to resolve the community's problems and necessities, and a democratic process to elect a new director.

3. The firing of José Refugio Tellez, chief of campus security, for his inefficiency, arrogance, authoritarianism, and the attacks that diverse sectors of the community have suffered on his behalf.

4. Porros out of CCH Vallejo. The authorities have not done enough to definitively eradicate this group.

5. An internal council with a democratic process for electing councilmembers, where student councilmembers enjoy full representation.

6. That the PAE (Programa de Apoyo al Egreso or Expense Support Program) be applied beginning in the second semester, and that the necessary groups are created so that students in whichever semester (second up to the sixth) can pass their classes and quickly graduate from the CCH.

7. Direct enrollment in UNAM without any restrictions. The 1997 reforms that, among other things, set a timeframe for the completion of studies at the bachelor level should not apply because they are not valid due to the results of the 1999-2000 student strike. The agreement was that the timeframe would not apply until a University Congress was created, which has still not happened.

8. The creation of a Popular Eatery as an alternative to the cafeteria's high prices. The school should provide the space and infrastructure.

9. That a mechanism be created to be able to pay for final exams without needing to go to the CU.

10. That professors don't condition grades on the obligatory sale of books and theater tickets.

11. That the cafeteria in the "R" building not be close to the bathrooms for hygiene reasons.

12. Respect for student spaces and free organization.

13. That the campus installations be continually maintained, including the lawns, bathrooms, and classrooms.
The situation on campus is very tense. School authorities are currently attempting to retake the director's office. They've called a student assembly, accusing the occupying students of being porros and encouraging the 2000 attendees to help the school authorities attack the occupying students and retake the office.

Letters in support of the student occupation can be sent to, and donations can be made at their website,

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