Alejandro Poir

Chanting slogans in Spanish, UT students and community members marched into the Texas Union building Friday afternoon and disrupted a conference hosting top Mexican government officials.

Holding signs written in Spanish such as “We are the Outraged” and “Felipe Calderón: Murderer,” the demonstrators protested a potential teaching position being offered to Mexico’s outgoing president, Felipe Calderón. Some said they belonged to the Yo Soy 132 group, a group fighting for democracy in Mexico, and that they believe that Calderón is responsible for crimes against humanity and the deaths of thousands of Mexicans. Demonstrators expressed concern that a teaching position at UT would be a way for the Mexican president to avoid prosecution in Mexico.

“There’s currently a petition going around in Mexico and the international community to get Calderón to be tried by an international court for crimes against humanity for the deaths of over 60,000 people,” Spanish-Portguese graduate student Rene Carrasco said. “[A teaching position] is a way to open the doors for immunity and not to get justice done.”

In August, the Dallas Morning News reported that Calderón and President William Powers Jr. had met at least twice to discuss the idea of teaching at UT after his term is over in November. The protesters aimed to convey their opposition to Mexico’s Secretary of Interior, Alejandro Poiré Romero, who spoke at the conference. They held signs accusing Calderón of crimes against humanity and said they hoped their message of opposition would reach the Mexican president.

UT Police Department officers responded to the protest but no arrests were made because it was a peaceful protest, police said.

UT spokesperson Tara Doolittle declined to comment on any talks regarding Calderón and his future teaching position at UT.

Charles Hale, director of Teresa Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, said he welcomed the viewpoints of the demonstrators, but that they could have been expressed in a more constructive manner.

“[The Institute] strongly endorses the principles of free speech,” Hale said. “In this particular case, my reaction was to endorse and respect the protesters’ right to express their views. In fact, I wanted to hear their views articulated more fully, and I was disappointed that their participation was mainly in the form of chants and slogans rather than substantive questions and challenges to the speaker.”

The Friday workshop in the Union Building was organized by the Long Institute for Latin American Studies in collaboration with the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the UT School of Law. Speakers included Poiré, Instituto Federal Electoral advisor Benito Nacif Hernández and Mexican election judge Manuel González Oropez.

Printed on Monday, September 24, 2012 as: Students protest Calderon, UT


Local Mexican law enforcement agencies must combat drug traffickers by avoiding corruption and receiving proper training to provide a network of safety to citizens, said Mexico’s security spokesman Monday.

Alejandro Poiré, secretary of the Mexico’s National Security Council, discussed the country’s national public safety strategy to an audience of about 60 people at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. He said Mexico’s federal government needs the state and local authorities to move more quickly to confront drug cartels.

“These originally traditional cartels became very, very, very powerful organizations and structures that had a lot of money and lot of guns and great organizational capacity that really challenged the state institutions at the local level,” Poiré said.

Plataforma Mexico, a project to coordinate and integrate information about crime and public security, is one way the Mexican government is combating violence. Poiré said the database can hold up to 400 million public safety records to coordinate between the federal, state and city levels.

Poiré said Mexico is also focusing on social development by providing more drug rehabilitation services, as well as making safe school programs and more social workers available to children with a family history of drug-related violence.

Poiré said the problems were originally caused by the demand of drugs in the United States, and the problem worsened when cartels gained access to guns from across the border.

“We have to recognize that this is not just Mexico’s problem,” Poiré said.

Public affairs professor Peter Ward said it was important for Poiré to not focus on the death toll and violence in Mexico but what the administration what was doing about it.

“Whichever party is in power for the next six years, whoever the president is, it’s going to be crucial to see the structural changes continue into the future,” Ward said. “I was very struck [by the] very dramatic improvements from the previous administration and the [current President Felipe] Calderón administration.”

Public affairs graduate student Raul Torres has not visited his hometown of Chihuahua, Mexico, since 2005 because of the drug cartel related violence. He said his family members who still live in Chihuahua are in denial about the violence. He said his family members still have to work and go to school, but they are sure to be home by 9 p.m.

“My take is [Poiré] boasted what his political party in Mexico is doing and maybe play[ed] down what is still lacking,” Torres said.