May 15, 2012

“We aren’t thugs or puppets,” respond Ibero-American University students to Peña

La Jornada: (Americas Program Original Translation)

“Neither thugs or puppets,” say several students, Ibero-American University (IAU) IDs in hand, in a video refuting the claims of the leaders of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Mexican Ecological Greens (PVEM) who have sought to question whether the protesters against Enrique Peña Nieto’s visit to the campus were really students from the university.

The young people, who numbered exactly 131, were filmed to provide authenticity, along with their ID numbers which verify them as members of the IAU community. The video was uploaded to YouTube to quell any doubt. In short, the recording is intended to make use of “our right to reply” and prove they did not act under orders.

The audience is not only the leaders and spokesmen of those parties, but also the media of questionable neutrality. In radio interviews, one of the students, Vincente Benítez (account number 170813-1), in his eighth semester studying communications, explains:

“We haven’t been infiltrated; we are students at the university. That day (last Friday), we arrived with around 50 classmates and began to protest. When we realized 300 people had joined our protest, they asked us for Salinas masks. Right there, on cardboard, they made their signs. I can tell you there aren’t people at Ibero that support Peña. There were some kids from ITAM, and I don’t know how they got in, because you have to show your card to prove that you’re a student.”

Meanwhile, Rodrigo, also a student, reported that some of his friends have been threatened through Twitter, driving them to cancel their accounts on the social network. They noted that university authorities have been supportive: “They told us that we’re within our rights.”

This past Friday, during and after Peña Nieto’s participation in the “Good Ibero Citizen” forum, a part of the university community expressed their displeasure with the presence of the PRI candidate with posters, masks of former president Carlos Salinas, and yells of “murderer!”, “Atenco, Atenco!”, and “Get out!” Protests continued to spread after the former Mexican governor had left the premises.

The video, which lasts 11 minutes, begins with images of the protest in the courtyard of the studies building, and in the background the voice of Arturo Escobar, from PVEM, is heard in an interview in which he said that the protestors were actually supporters of Progressive Movement candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

“There is a group, I do not mean young people, already grown up, about 30 to 35 years old, that is inciting this. There aren’t more than 20 of them. The information given to us afterward says that groups close to López Obrador were promoting and organizing such events,” said a PVEM spokesman.

After the audio, the screen turns white and in red letters the inscription “The Students Respond” appears. The faces of several young people reading a message claiming to be students at IAU immediately begins.

“Dear Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, Escobar and Emilio Gamboa, as well as media of doubtful neutrality: we use the right to reply to deny your claims. We are students at Ibero, we aren’t thugs or puppets, and nobody trained us for anything.”

Each of the young people (between 19 and 27 years old) shows the camera their ID, reads its registration number, and says their name. Some say their specialization and the semester they are enrolled.

“My name is María Josém ID number 172236-9. We are Ibero students,” says one girl around 20 years old. Lourdes Z. says that his student ID number is 177118 and adds: “I’m not a thug or puppet.”

Diana T. classifies herself as a non-partisian and claims to have participated in the protest against Peña Nieto. “I was there,” says Fernanda G. Eduardo Velasco, ID number 168616, remarking “I’m no thug, I’m no puppet, I’m an Ibero student.”

The video gained prominence on social networks, as happened with the videos of the protests against Peña Nieto. Yesterday afternoon, the phrase “131 alumnos de la Ibero” (“131 Ibero students”) became a trending topic (most talked about topic) on Twitter in Mexico and internationally.

On Friday, during his participation in the forum, organized by the administration of the university, the PRI standard-bearer received both support and rejection. In the Q&A, some young people questioned him about the events in San Salvador Atenco, the Mexican state, in May 2006, and the high number of femicides in that state during his term as governor. Peña Nieto answered these questions even though they were outside the topics of the program.

While he was leaving the auditorium, dozens of students confronted him, preventing the PRI politician from participating in the transmission of RadioIbero as he had to leave the university. Read Spanish original

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