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Mexican Students Reject Offer

January 8, 2000

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Students who have shut down Mexico’s largest public school with an eight-month strike rejected an offer from university officials to meet some of their demands, saying the offer didn’t go far enough.

The offer that the strikers turned down Friday included eliminating a plan to raise tuition at the National Autonomous University of Mexico from the equivalent of a few cents to $140 annually. That proposed tuition increase _ the first in decades _ was what originally sparked the strike.

The university negotiators walked out of Friday’s talks after six hours because the students refused to discuss the offer.

After the talks, the strikers said in a statement that they are now demanding the release of several students arrested during a Dec. 11 demonstration for allegedly hurling rocks and launching fireworks at the U.S. Embassy and police. That protest was called to demand the release of other demonstrators arrested during the recent World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle.

A group of striking students seized the university campus April 20. While there are 268,000 students at the university, the strikers represent a few thousand.

``We have come close to meeting the demands originally put forward″ by the striking students, said Xavier Soberon, who represents the university’s rector in the negotiations.

The students’ demands also include automatic admission for graduates of the university’s prep school and a lowering of academic standards.

The university offer, drawn up by newly appointed Rector Juan Ramon de la Fuente, maintained that those issues should be voted on at a convention of university staff, faculty and students.

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