Monday, August 15, 2005

Chronicle of an old history: the taking of the Student dining room in San Marcos

Gate Nº 3 taken from the strikers. Nothing new in San Marcos. (Picture: Valdimir Teran)

The past june, Friday 10th, students of the San Marcos University, took the access doors to the university, not allowing the entrance or exit to those ones who struggled to escape from that rising chaos. I present/display a chronicle about those days of tension, that seemed affairs of the past, but return to remember us that, there is still a lot of things to do .

Friday 10th, 1 :00 p.m.. I needed some fresh air to breath, not only because of the boredom I felt of being sit down several hours in my place, just in front of the press designer, waiting for the printed tests of the weekly magazine, to correct them, in this warm (in spite of the cold) office, but because I had to make a proceeding in the SUNAT (National Superintendence of tributary administration). Some pennies would be given back to me and moments like this must be solved immediately; but the hour was perfect, it was lunch time so I asked permission and went away, with Michael to pick my bank check, we would have lunch after. Outside the office, voices of people who sang protest songs seemed to be heard .

However, from the previous day it was known already about the protest of a student group due to the supposedly sudden and arbitrary close down of the Universitary Dining Room. Rumors that had run that this deed was part of a plan to privatize it: the breakfasts, lunches and suppers -all for free- that were distributed from Monday to Saturday (and even Sundays for the residents) would be lost and they would begin to collect the price of 1 nuevo sol for each one (about US $ 0.40) . What a scandal! About twenty students armed of pots, coverpots and buckets appeared beside the large window of my office in the Central see of San Marcos singing mottos of all type " you will see son of a b../ what will going to happen...", "Burga (rector of San Marcos), listen San Marcos reject you ", or "here, there, fear is over". But these facts not only happened on Thursday, but it was from Monday they had been marching around the main building of the university , singing the same chorus, but having a plan to execute under the sleeve.

But nothing of it was new. To hear those protest chorus or to run into the classic blackboards -announcements adressed to the public opinion, in the door of each faculty, it not in fact a new event. Ever since I entered this university, the oldest of America, it was every day matter . I remember my first impression. San Marcos seemed a placed produced in a nightmare. The walls were painted badly with pale colors (slow blue, green, white) and each door was guarded by a soldier of the peruvian army (or "cachaco" as people use to name them contemptuously). It was May , 1992 and two months ago, the former president Alberto Fujimori had ordered the intervention of the army in the university, to consider it quarter of terrorists. From the gate in Venezuela Avenue, where I entered for the first time, there was an immense portion of land, covered of bad grass, but what attracted me more was the wall that was about two hundred steps right in front of me. They called it " the wall of the shame" and looked like that worried clothes of rough brush that the soldiers had used in all the buldings in their hurry to change the face to San Marcos as much as possible, for erase any sign of the graffities and protest phrases, (the more visible ones were those of the ultraleft groups) that time before was what abounded in all of them. Nevertheless, that task of washing the face to San Marcos, would take more time. The student leaders , who represented more than twenty political parties with majority in left position, would resist to walk aside before what was inevitable: to accept that a stage was finishing and another one began.



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