Popular Chilean student leader to visit Mexico
MEXICO CITY -- The Chilean student leader Camila Vallejo confirmed on Wednesday that she will visit a Mexico City university and meet with members of the nascent student movement in Mexico known as "I am 132."
Vallejo, a popular figure, is among listed participants for a conference on public education that started Wednesday at the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, or UAM.
She is scheduled to meet students in the #YoSoy132 movement Thursday at the UAM campus in Xochimilco, in southern Mexico City.
A 24-year-old geography student, Vallejo became internationally known as an early and telegenic leader in the movement calling for education reform in Chile. The demonstrations that began in May 2011 to press for more public funding in higher education have put pressure on the administration of Chilean President Sebastian Piñera.
Mexico's student movement, meanwhile, held another string of large demonstrations across the country on Sunday, along with concurrent, smaller protests by supporters in cities around the world, including Madrid, Chicago and Washington.
Demonstrators are opposed to the possible victory of presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico's former ruling party in the July 1 election. The Institutional Revolutionary Party is leading in polls as the vote nears.
Demonstrators have declared themselves nonpartisan, but the "I am 132" movement has buoyed the campaign of leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in some polls.
The movement took a hit Monday when a video emerged of students claiming to be #YoSoy132 but who were announcing a split with the group. "I am 132" organizers said the people who appear in the clip were unknown to them and had never been at movement meetings. (One figure in the splinter group told reporters Tuesday that it had only 15 members.)
"These are guys just looking for attention and the news media are giving it to them to weaken the movement," said Ignacio Martinez, a 23-year-old communications student at the Ibero-American University, where protests began against Peña Nieto on May 11.
Meanwhile, as reports of physical confrontations between alleged Peña Nieto supporters and Peña Nieto opponents have trickled into news accounts, Lopez Obrador on Wednesday said during his daily news conference that his campaign did not support violence of any sort.
"We are not in any act of confrontation," said Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor and self-proclaimed pacifist. "We are in peace, peace, peace, peace."
Peña Nieto, former governor of the state of Mexico who has also disavowed any campaign violence, reaffirmed his position Wednesday to not attend an unofficial presidential debate being organized by the "I am 132" movement. The three other presidential candidates have agreed to participate.
"It's clear this is a movement that does not generate conditions for a neutral, impartial meeting," Peña Nieto said during a television interview.
Photo: Chilean student leader Camila Vallejo, pictured in 2011. Credit: Luis Hidalgo / Associated Press