student protests

Guatemala: students march against 'reform'

Joined by activists from other social movements, hundreds of students from Guatemalan teachers' colleges marched nearly 50 kilometers to Guatemala City from El Tejar in the central department of Chimaltenango starting on March 10 to protest what they called the "arbitrary and anti-democratic form" of an educational "reform" passed last year. Students from local private schools began joining the marchers as they arrived in the capital around 6 AM on March 12. The protesters headed to the National Congress and surrounded it, demanding a dialogue with Education Minister Cynthia del Aguila. The minister initially refused to meet with the students, but at the end of the day Del Aguila held a press conference with Dialogue Commissioner Miguel Barcárcel and student representatives to announce plans for a discussion—although Del Aguila said this didn't necessarily mean the government was backing down from the reform.

Mexico: evidence mounts of police repression on Dec. 1 inaugural

On Dec. 9 Mexican authorities released 56 of the 69 people who had been in detention for more than a week on suspicion of "attacking public peace" during protests in Mexico City against the inauguration of President Enrique Peña Nieto. A total of 106 were reportedly arrested on a day that included violent confrontations between police and protesters and widespread property destruction, but 28 were quickly released. Judge María del Carmen Mora Brito of the Federal District (DF) court system ordered the Dec. 9 releases after "analyzing videos, testimonies and expert witnesses' reports," the DF Superior Court of Justice (TSJDF) announced in a communiqué. (Europa Press, Dec. 10)

Protests rock Sudan, South Sudan...

Six people were injured Dec. 9 as Sudanese police used tear-gas against hundreds of student protesters near the University of Khartoum. The protesters—who chanted the iconic Arab Spring slogan "The people want to overthrow the regime"—were marching to demand justice in the case of four students from the Darfur region who were found drowned in a canal near the campus of Gezira University, south of the capital, on Dec. 7, after they had participated in protests against tuition hikes. The Khartoum protesters marched through the city center, chanting "Killing a student is killing a nation."

Mexico: Peña Nieto takes office as youths riot

Protests against Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto during his inauguration on Dec. 1 quickly turned into violent confrontations between police and demonstrators that disrupted much of downtown Mexico City. The protests were called by the National Convention Against the Imposition, a coalition of groups holding that Peña Nieto's election last July was manipulated, and #YoSoy132 ("I'm number 132"), a student movement that arose in the spring in response to the election campaign. But masked youths, many of them wearing black t-shirts with anarchist symbols, quickly became the center of attention at the Dec. 1 demonstration.

Pressure on Rwanda over role in Congo war

Thousands of students protested in the Democratic Republic of Congo cities Kisangani, Bunia and Kinshasa on Nov. 20 after M23 rebels seized the eastern city of Goma. They were mostly expressing their rage at the M23 rebels, but also targeted the government and the UN mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO). Despite government and UN assurances, M23 rebels took Goma with little resistance from either Congolese or UN forces. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said it was "absurd" that UN troops could not stop the rebels from entering Goma. With a 20,000-strong military and civilian staff, MONUSCO has a yearly budget of close to $1.5 billion, the second-largest peacekeeping mission in the world (after Sudan).

Haiti: students protest killing by police agent

Damaël D'Haïti, an economics student at the State University of Haiti (UEH), was shot dead the evening of Nov. 10 during an event at the university's Faculty of Law and Economics (FDSE) facility in Port-au-Prince. According to witnesses, the killer was an agent of the Haitian National Police (PNH), Macéus Pierre-Paul (or Pierre-Paul Macéus); the motive was unclear. Pierre-Paul was detained, and Port-au-Prince Government Commissioner Lucmane Délile, chief prosecutor for the capital, insisted that justice would be carried out in this case.

Dominican austerity protests spread abroad

A large crowd of Dominicans, mostly youths, demonstrated in the Plaza de la Bandera in Santo Domingo the evening of Nov. 17 to protest a "fiscal reform" package proposed by President Danilo Medina and passed by the Congress the week before. The government says the package, which will raise the country's sales tax from 16% to 18% and will establish some new taxes, is necessary to make up for a deficit of 187 billion pesos (about US$4.704 billion); the protesters charge that they are being made to pay for wasteful spending by former president Leonel Fernández (1996-2000, 2004-2008 and 2008-2012) and are being subjected to an austerity program demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Some media reported that thousands participated in the Nov. 17 action and described the demonstration as the largest yet in the two weeks since the anti-austerity protests started.

Puerto Rico: Fortuño loses —but did statehood win?

On Nov. 7 Puerto Rican governor Luis G. Fortuño conceded defeat in his bid for a second four-year term in an election the day before that also included voting for the legislature and the municipal governments, and a non-binding referendum on the island's status. With 96.35% of the ballots counted, Fortuño, the candidate of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP), had received 47.04% of the votes; Senator Alejandro García Padilla, running for the centrist Popular Democratic Party (PPD), won narrowly with 47.85%. Juan Dalmau Ramírez of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) came in third with 2.53%, less than the 3% required to maintain the party's ballot status. Three smaller parties split the remaining votes. (Prensa Latina, Nov. 7; Claridad, Puerto Rico, Nov. 8)

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