A crowd of 10,000 students and teachers converged on Plaza Liberacion on Monday to demand something be done about an epidemic of assaults targeting University of Guadalajara (UdG) students.
The demonstration was touched off by the murder of Francisco Alvarez Quezada, 17, a promising student at Tonala High School (Preparatoria) who was recently accepted into an English-language program sponsored by the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara. While walking to an English lesson, he and his friend were accosted by a mugger who demanded his cellphone. Quezada, despite relinquishing his phone peaceably, was then stabbed to death by the assailant.
So far, 2017 has seen 250 UdG students assaulted, a marked increase from 2015, which registered 201 for the entire year. Quezada’s murder was the final straw, bringing outraged students and staff from Mexico’s second largest public university flooding into the large rectangular plaza clutching signs and banners. Students and faculty alike gave voice to their frustration.
Jesus Medina Varela, leader of the University Student Federation (FEU), singled out law enforcement for what he sees as their dereliction of duty in effectively prosecuting cases of assault reported by students.
“We have here in our hands all the complaints registered with the authorities,” said Varela. “You know how many have been resolved? Not one.”
In response to this crisis of security, UdG Rector Tonatiuh Bravo Padilla is demanding that federal, state and local governments come together with him to eradicate the threat of violent crime plaguing his student body. He blames a lack of coordination between municipal, state and federal authorities as a major reason why crime is so ineffectively stemmed in Guadalajara.
Jalisco Governor Aristoteles Sandoval added his voice to the indignation. “We cannot permit that the talent and energy of our youth be snuffed out by crime. To do so would be to throw the future of our state away, to give up the future of our city and leave it in the hands of criminals, which we won’t do. This crime (the murder of Francisco Alvarez Quezada) won’t go unpunished.”
Not present at the protest were Quezada’s parents, who instead prepared a statement, read by the head of the boy’s school, Luz Elba Zarate.
“We’re not asking for revenge, only that the safety denied Francisco can be assured for our remaining three children,” read the statement.