By David Bacon of Pacific News Service .(excerpts)
Mexico City_ With social chaos a key issue in Mexico's presidential campaign, the university strike that ended spectacularly with mass arrests last week (Feb.6) is likely to resound for months.
One hundred thousand people marched Feb.9, clamoring for release of imprisoned strikers who had shut down the national autonomous University (UNAM) for nine months. The massive protest in the world's largest city highlighted the reality that huge fissures dividing Mexico's rich and poor are deeper than ever after 70 years of uninterrupted rule by the governing PRI.
Until the federal government arrested 745 students and teachers Feb.6, accepted wisdom held that the strike, one of the longest and most bitter in Latin American history, had lost popular supportŠ.
For the last four years, the PRD has governed Mexico City, a period the PRI attacked as an era of social disintegration. Cardenas, the first elected mayor, resigned to campaign for president a year ago, and turned the office over to Rosario Robles, now Mexico's most powerful woman officeholder.
When the federal government ordered Robles to use city police to occupy the campus and arrest students, she refused- the move would not only have violated the Mexican constitution, but been viewed by PRD members as political betrayal. So the PRI used a new federal strike force intended to combat drugs, as well as army troops in police uniforms.