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Mexican Students, Opponents Clash

January 31, 2000

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Striking university students clashed with opponents Monday, throwing rocks and fists as the anti-strike group broke through a barricade at a campus in Mexico City.

Law students and faculty tore past the barricade of wire, poles, tires and debris to confront strikers who have occupied Mexico’s 280,000-student National Autonomous University since April.

``Let’s go. Together, the community and the law faculty, we will lift the strike,″ law professor Othon Perez Fernandez shouted to dozens of anti-strikers, who responded ``Yes,″ then rushed the blockade.

The two sides scuffled in an open plaza before Perez Fernandez was knocked unconscious and had to be withdrawn by supporters. He was hospitalized with minor injuries and was expected to be released Monday night, the Televisa network reported.

One person was detained, the report added.

Confrontations between the two sides have escalated in recent days as the anti-strike side has rallied students to challenge strikers.

Last week, Juan Ramon de la Fuente, rector of the university, delivered results of a referendum showing nearly 90 percent of teachers and students support his proposal to end the walkout.

Strike leaders have rejected the results as irrelevant and fraudulent. They have called for negotiations to resume, but de la Fuente has demanded campuses reopen first.

The strike began in April to protest plans to raise annual tuition from a few cents to $140. Administrators withdrew the fee increase, but students later demanded sweeping policy changes.