Mantienen rechazo a fraude en la rectoría de la Usac

Shirlie Rodriguez

Translated by Maya Greenberg


Months after a student community protest at the Center University of Occidente (CUNOC) in Quetzaltenango, these students continue searching for new ways of demonstrating their displeasure with and rejection of the fraudulent administrative elections won by Dean Walter Mazariegos.

Since last year, the student community of CUNOC participated in the occupation of school facilities as a way of demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the election of Walter Mazariegos.

Another component of the so-called fraudulent election was the tampering with two spreadsheets provided by the ex – human rights worker Jordan Rodas. This resulted in the inability of most electoral bodies to participate, clearing a corrupt path for Mazariegos’ success.

The students considered these actions to be fraud and, thus, organized in protest. This led to the creation of the Student Resistence Front, which maintained control and occupation of the building.

To make their point, these students occupied the building for over nine months, thus preventing face-to-face classes from being held. All academic processes moved online.

The constituents of the Front pointed out that since the first day of their occupation of CUNOC, they encountered detractors. The Right-Wing coalition was the first to oppose them and even make intimidating statements against them.

Since May of last year, when the occupation first began, the students remained vigilant against the attempts by task forces to shut down this protest and overlook the fraud.

For one of the students who participated in the movement, it was a form of demonstrating how a student community could still have dignity, despite losing many of the student spaces which support such activism.

“It showed us that there are still students who want to defend autonomy, in a country that really needs it. It wasn’t a game, and many of the forms of criminalization imposed by CUNOC’S authorities were unnecessary. They were only used to repress these protests,” said this student, who preferred to remain anonymous.

In February of 2023, a task force sent by the university authorities arrived at CUNOC in the early morning and proceeded to remove the students of the Front, who denounced them for abuse and aggressions.

Following this early-morning intervention, CUNOC’S authorities arrived to re-occupy the facilities. When asked for comment, their response was quick, far quicker than when the resistance had requested meetings regarding the potential resignation of Walter Mazariegos.

The president of CUNOC, César Milián, said that the school had nothing to do with the task force that had arrived and removed protesters from the facilities. Milián did state that they were going to investigate those who had previously been in charge of the building, despite a petition from students to avoid crimininalization.

These kinds of protests against the election of Walter Mazariegos did not only take place in CUNOC. Resistance movements in the Center University of San Marcos, Huehuetenango, and Retalhuleleu had also involved occupations of campus facilities.

For consituents of civil society, the defense of autonomy in San Carlos University enters within everyone’s jurisdiction. Pilar Bagur of the Citizen’s Collective of Quetzaltenango supported the resistance in Xela, and continued to support them during protests to avoid a co-opting of a university study house.

So far, in-person classes have resumed, but the constituents of the Student Resistance Front and of the General Student Coordinator remain clear in their position against Walter Mazariegos and the election fraud.