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UNAM Students’ Gaza Solidarity Encampment

José Luis Granados Ceja, a Mexican freelance journalist, is currently studying human rights and popular democracy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico City (UNAM). His writings on democratic struggles in Latin America appear regularly online at his Antimperialistia site. The article below appeared originally in Truthout and has been edited for brevity and clarity.

At UNAM’s Rectory Tower, students from the Interuniversity and Popular Assembly in Solidarity with Palestine set up their encampment to protest the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

Like the many US student encampments at dozens of university campuses, Mexican students aim to visibly send a message to the university leadership and to exert pressure for their demands to be met.


President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, elected in 2018 and Mexicos first leftist president in decades, has condemned Israels violence, called for an immediate ceasefire, and joined Chile in referring the war in Palestine to the International Criminal Court, but, unlike Colombia, has stopped short of breaking diplomatic relations with Israel.

University Students in Mexico Launch Gaza Solidarity Encampment, Call for BDS

Student organizers see López Obradors response as tepid” given the level of brutality Israel has employed. The students are calling on the Mexican government to break diplomatic relations with Israel and for UNAM to break all academic ties with Israeli institutions. 


The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign affiliate in Mexico set up a tent near the student encampment. BDS activist Paulina Castro said that they are specifically calling for a boycott of the tech company HP and the Mexican-based CEMEX, a cement company deeply involved in the oppression of Palestinians through its work building Israelseparation barrier” and checkpoints that limit the mobility of Palestinians. 


The students’ demand to break diplomatic relations with Israel has major reverberations due to Israels insidious role in Mexicos domestic politics. In March 2011, Mexico reached an agreement to become the first client of the notorious Israeli-made spying software Pegasus and Mexico eventually became the most prolific user in the world. Purportedly created to fight organized crime, governments use the software, which infiltrates phones without users’ knowledge, to spy on civilians; in the case of Mexico, they used it to spy on human rights defenders and activists. 


Although López Obrador suspended its use, it is believed the Mexican Armed Forces will continue to use the software. Breaking diplomatic relations would spell an end to the partnerships that allow this software to be used in Mexico.


Israel also played a role in obstructing justice for the 43 forcibly disappeared students from the teacher training college in Ayotzinapa in 2014. Israel is currently sheltering Tomás Zerón, then head of the Federal Prosecutors Criminal Investigation Agency and believed to have led the state cover-up of the students’ forced disappearance. A warrant for his arrest has been issued, and Mexico has sought Zeróns extradition from Israel. Israel has refused, in part because of its displeasure with the López Obrador governments position on Palestine — Mexico fully recognized the State of Palestine in 2023.


The camp at the UNAM has itself become a place of convergence for transnational, cross-border solidarity. A visitor from Canada noted, Seeing the same kind of language being used — anti-imperialism and anti-occupation — goes to show that this is a shared struggle. Were not only targeting the United States as the bastion of white supremacy and global imperialism, but also targeting global capital as a whole. Were not ending until the collective struggle ends with collective liberation.”