A meeting this week between University of Guadalajara (UdeG) Rector Ricardo Villanueva and Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro could signal the end to the ugly three-year standoff between the state administration and the country’s second largest higher education institution.
Olive branches were handed out (in both directions) following the recent death of Raul Padilla Lopez, a canny political operative considered the university’s “power behind the throne,” who commandeered decision making in the university since he ended his term as rector in the mid 1990s. Padilla’s death affords new powers to the sitting rector, and Villanueva has wasted no time in seeking to mend fences with the state government, and Alfaro in particular.
Over the past two years, Padilla—in the eyes of many observers—orchestrated a vigorous propaganda offensive against Alfaro, culminating in weekly marches by students to his official residence in Guadalajara, the Casa Jalisco. While their main beef appeared to be the lack of funding for the university, Alfaro and others believed the students were being used as tools by Padilla, whose political manipulations were a secret to no one.
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