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Ryan and I visited yesterday for a few hours, and I’m excited to return in a couple months when the Mexico Solidarity Network program heads to Mexico City. UNAM is an autonomous, free school. Founded in 1910 as an alternative to the Catholic Church associated college, UNAM attained autonomy in the 1920s which has affected many aspects of how the school has developed from curriculum to budget. It’s campus is a World Heritage Site, something I learned just now. The library is immense and completely covered in mosaics, and there are Diego Rivera murals on the campus as well. It is a massive campus, aptly referred to as “University City.”

But Ryan and my time there wasn’t all in awe. We were both deeply disturbed by the proliferation of high, metal rod fences that have been erected over the entire campus within the last two years. There was a killing of a student on campus a year and a half ago, which gave the justification for more security. But honestly, it looks a lot more like an effort to dictate movement of people. For example, giant plazas will only have two entrances, making the police much more able to trap people if desired. These fences are ugly: ten feet tall gray metal rods, the tops sometimes bent in one direction to further impede potential passage. Ryan: “This is what totalitarianism looks like.”

I talked with mi maestra, Elisa, today about it and she clarified that the police on campus are independent from federal forces and that the need for security is a real one. HOWEVER, this need is almost always responded to by the Mexican government (not to mention the U.S.) with further militarization. Has this resulted in more security? I think not. There was a poster on the campus that read “To keep your kids from taking drugs, we’re killing them.” (in spanish)

We did find some really great folks at the Che Guevara auditorium, a space that has been occupied for ten years since the MASSIVE 1999 student strike (200,000 UNAM students plus high schoolers and technical college students across the entire city for NINE MONTHS). Before 1999 the space had been occupied for a long time, and was the staging ground for many of the mass meetings leading up to la huelga. Currently, the students and folks involved run a big selection of free workshops, hold tons of cultural events, and continue the legacy of resistance on the campus. When MSN (my program) gets to Mexico City I’ll be sure to attend some events and workshops. I have a bunch of photos of posters and grafitti on campus that I’ll share soon with anyone reading this. There was some real great stuff. 😉

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3 thoughts on “Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

  1. Hey darling– just wanted to let you know that your presence is missed during this moving in time. I love reading your blog and hearing your growth through your narrative of these beautiful experiences. Yesterday Krisie and Riley and I spent some time on the farm then biked to Flayvors– it was a day that you would have enjoyed. Moved into a lovely bright apartment in NoHo with CHaCha and Lyla and we are filling it up with love. Sending you the best luck and biggest hug– can’t wait to hear more from you and kiss you from head to toe!
    xoxoxoxo
    Emelia

  2. … a World Heritage Site and yes, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, too: Alfonso García Robles for setting up a nuclear-free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean. UNAM sounds like a fascinating place. Send update and oh yes, can you Skype? xoxoxoox Gm

  3. Exciting opportunity to see other parts of the world up closer. And be a real part of it.

    In May and June of 2011 I hope to be in residence at the University of Ngozi in Burundi helping with post genocide reconciliation work. Somewhat like the Che Guivara legacy of social activism you describe, Ngozi University was founded in 1995 to promote cooperation among the various tribes involved in the Civil War that only ended in 2005. Their URL is in French but it does have some photographs.

    See http://www.univ-ngozi.org/

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