TEGUCIGALPA – Twelve people were injured on Monday when security guards ejected student occupiers from several buildings on the campus of the Autonomous National University of Honduras (UNAH).
“Many comrades are bleeding, others have broken legs from blows with chains,” a masked protester told reporters.
The occupiers, who belong to the University Student Movement (MEU) are demanding the removal of UNAH Chancellor Julieta Castellanos over her decision to pursue criminal prosecution of participants in an earlier protest.
UNAH administrators said in a statement that they hired a private security firm to remove the protesters in the interest of “protecting and ensuring the right to education.”
The decision was a response to protesters’ use of force and violence to prevent UNAH from functioning, the administration said, noting that the disruptions threatened to force the extension of the current academic term.
MEU members confronted the security guards with sticks and stones.
One of the security guards, who declined to give his name, said that a number of the students were drunk or high on drugs.
Administrators announced last week that they were canceling the current academic term on the UNAH campus in the southern city of Choluteca, where dissidents students have been occupying buildings for weeks.
To salvage the term at the main campus in Tegucigalpa, classes would need to resume this week, the administration said.
MEU wants Castellanos to resign and for the charges against a score of students in a connection with an April 24 protest to be dropped.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez reacted to the news of Monday’s confrontation by urging the two sides to sit down and talk.
The students should “drop their violent attitudes,” the president told Radio America in Tegucigalpa.
At the same time, he called on the UNAH administration to restore order and to acknowledge that the students have a legitimate role in discussions about the proposed restructuring of the institution.