TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT (L)
TITLE=MILITANT KIDNAP (UPDATE)
INTRO: In Mexico City, the leader of the student
strike that has shut down the campus of the National
Autonomous University of Mexico since April has
reappeared after fellow militants claimed he was
kidnapped. As V-O-A's Greg Flakus reports from Mexico
City, there are many, even among the student strikers,
who are expressing skepticism about the supposed
TEXT: In the early morning hours, just before sunrise
in Mexico City, witnesses saw Alejandro Echevarria
Zarco back on the university campus, that he has
helped keep closed for the past 169 days. The
sighting added another twist to an already confused
story. According to several student militants,
Mr.Echevarria was grabbed by a group of about 15 men
Tuesday.evening. They say the men beat several of Mr.
Echevarria's companions, preventing them from helping
him, and then sped away with him in a white van.
After he reappeared on campus, the strike leader told
reporters he was held for several hours by men he
described as security agents. He said he was asked
questions about the strike but was not mistreated.
But several moderate members of the student strike
committee say they have doubts about Mr. Echevaria's
version of events. Francisco Barnes, rector of the
university known locally by its Spanish acronym, UNAM,
says he considers the kidnapping story the result of
internal problems inside the student strike committee.
/// Barnes Act (Spanish) ///
He says this kind of thing can be expected when the
leaders of the most radical student faction feel they
are losing control. The UNAM rector says he doubts
there was a kidnapping because the strike leaders have
very little credibilty. He also says they are the
ones guilty of kidnapping the university campus and
preventing more than 200-thousand students from
continuing their studies.
///OPT /// The alleged abduction of Mr. Echevarria
came only hours after the president of Mexico's Senate
Justice Commission called for an investigation of
claims that leftist guerrilla groups have smuggled
weapons onto the UNAM campus. Presidential hopeful
Francisco Labastida of the ruling Institutional
Revolutionary Party made the accusation in campaign
speeches. He says the UNAM student militants are
being armed by forces of the Popular Revolutionary
Army, a guerrilla group operating in the states of
Oaxaca and Guerrero.
Attempts to negotiate an end the more than five-month-
long student strike have failed repeatedly.
University officials say the vast majority of students
want the strike to end so they can return to classes,
but that the strike is being prolonged by a small
group of radical Marxists. (Signed)
06-Oct-1999 17:07 PM EDT (06-Oct-1999 2107 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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