Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Student dies after clashes at UNAM Naucalpan campus

Nine people were arrested in connection with an outbreak of violence outside a university campus in México state on Wednesday.

A 19-year-old man died at the scene, but authorities attributed his death to a fall rather than the clash between students from different educational institutions.

The government of Naucalpan, a municipality in the metropolitan area of greater Mexico City, said in a statement that municipal police arrested eight men and a woman “for their probable participation” in the “violent events” that occurred outside the Naucalpan campus of the National Autonomous University’s College of Sciences and Humanities (CCH).

The CCH said in a statement that there was a “physical confrontation and several detonations of firecrackers” outside its Naucalpan campus at approximately 6 p.m. Wednesday.

It said that the clash was between “grupos porriles,” incendiary student groups that, according to the El País newspaper, are made up of “people who tend to respond to specific interests, and through organized violence generally seek to sabotage student life and break the dynamics inside [educational] institutions to achieve their objectives.”

Members of such groups are called porros.

Graffiti on a median that reads "Get porros out of UNAM"
In 2018, there was violence caused by “porros” at UNAM campuses and student protests followed. (Cuartoscuro)

At least two people were injured during Wednesday’s clash, and the 19-year-old man identified as a student at the Faculty of Superior Studies Acatlán, another National Autonomous University (UNAM) campus, was found dead near the entrance to CCH Naucalpan. He had reportedly gone to the CCH campus to assist his 17-year-old brother.

The newspaper La Jornada was among the media outlets that published footage of the violent clash.

Initial reports said that the deceased man, identified as Óscar Yael, was beaten to death by porros, but later on Wednesday night UNAM issued a statement saying that he died as a result of a fall from a “vehicular bridge.”

A number of students challenged that claim, pointing out that the bridge from which the man supposedly fell is some distance from the entrance to the CCH campus, where the clash began.

One person described UNAM’s statement as “incongruent” and “harmful” and asserted that Óscar Yael was beaten to death “in front of the campus.”

The news website Infobae reported that the man managed to get up after falling from the bridge and walked to the entrance of the CCH campus with the assistance of his brother. He then reportedly collapsed and died.

In this security camera footage, students are seen running away from the clashes.

 

UNAM modified its statement later on Wednesday night, saying once again that the man died due to injuries caused by a fall but removing the reference to a bridge.

The university said that two other young people were injured, although some media reports placed the figure at 10 or higher. UNAM said that those injured received immediate assistance from medical personnel.

“Due to what happened, the campus authorities shielded the facilities to provide greater security to the university community and the decision was taken to suspend activities tomorrow, Thursday [May] 9, in order to facilitate the investigations of the México state Attorney General’s Office,” UNAM said.

The university said that the confrontation was between “two groups of young people presumably from different education institutions,” but it didn’t cite a specific reason for the clash.

The newspaper Milenio reported that “according to witnesses,” a group of approximately 150 porros from Colegio de Bachilleres 5 arrived outside the CCH Naucalpan campus “and hit all the students they encountered.”

The El Universal newspaper said that students from Bachilleres 5 and another school known as Voca 2 are “rivals” of CCH students.

In its statement, the Naucalpan government said that those involved in the clash “were identified as porros by the students themselves.”

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Thursday that an investigation into the events outside the CCH Naucalpan campus was underway.

“Regrettably a young man died in this clash between groups and the investigation is already being carried out,” he told reporters at his morning press conference.

Grupos porriles have existed in Mexico for more than 100 years. The name is reportedly derived from the word porra, which can mean (the often boisterous) fans of a sports team.

With reports from La Jornada, Publimetro, Infobae, Milenio and El Universal

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