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DATE=1/20/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=UNIVERSITY REFERENDUM RESULTS (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-258276 BYLINE=GREG FLAKUS DATELINE=MEXICO CITY CONTENT= VOICED AT= INTRO: In Mexico, preliminary results from a referendum show overwhelming support for an end to a strike that has closed the National Autonomous University of Mexico, known as UNAM, since April. As V-O-A's Greg Flakus reports from Mexico City, the vote also gives strong backing to the university's rector. TEXT: Exit polls conducted outside voting centers in Mexico City show that more than 90 percent of those in the university community support the proposal of UNAM rector Juan Ramon de la Fuente to end the strike. The voters also said the strike should end immediately. Tens of thousands of university officials, faculty members, campus workers and students went to 923 polling places all across Mexico City Thursday, and in some other parts of the country as well. Special polling stations were set up in San Antonio, Texas, and (the city of) Hull in Canada, where substantial numbers of Mexican citizens reside. Only people associated with the university, as academics, students, administrators or workers, could vote in the referendum. The process was accomplished in an orderly fashion, with each person casting a vote showing identification and having indelible ink applied to his or her thumb after voting. The proposal Mr. De la Fuente put forth earlier this month meets almost every demand of the striking students, including the demand that a special university congress be created to set the future direction of the institution. But strike leaders rejected the proposal anyway, because not all their demands were met. As the months have passed, more moderate members of the strike committee have either abandoned the cause or been expelled. The strike council is now totally under the control of a hard-core Marxist group known as the "ultras." Authorities hope the overwhelming support of the university community, demonstrated in the referendum, will convince the strikers to end the conflict and allow UNAM to open again. But those familiar with the strike leaders are doubtful that they will be swayed. At the same time, it is doubtful that the government will use police force to end the strike, because of fears that this could result in a violent confrontation. (Signed) NEB/GF/WTW 21-Jan-2000 00:23 AM EDT (21-Jan-2000 0523 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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