As the conflict over educational reforms in Guatemala’s escuelas normales rages on, police violently evicted student protesters on July 2, from their occupation at Industry Park and various schools throughout Guatemala City, in an ongoing campaign to repress the movement. In the morning, reports described four police squads arriving at the park with Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, the Minister of the Interior, up to eight students detained and 12 sent to the hospital. Allegations of sexual aggression toward young female protesters circulated via independent media outlets as the normalista students prepared for potential further evictions and continued to demand negotiations with the Ministry of Education.
The escuelas normales in Guatemala are schools located throughout the country’s 22 departments that train young students to be teachers. The teacher’s certification has long been one of the only professional degrees accessible to Guatemala’s rural and indigenous youth who cannot afford higher education. In a country, where 2 percent of the population receives a university education, educational opportunities remain an important indicator of and contributor to the country’s vast economic and social inequalities. The normalista movement for the last two months has been using direct action to oppose a proposed two-year expansion of the magisterio program, including the occupation of their schools which have suspended classes in Guatemala City.
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