July 4 - Peruvian police fired water cannons and launched tear gas at large crowds of students in Lima as they marched towards Congress to protest reforms that would impose tougher standards on universities. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Peruvian police fired water cannons and launched tear gas at large crowds of students in Lima on Thursday (July 04) as they marched towards Congress to protest reforms that would impose tougher standards on universities. Protesters lashed out at President Ollanta Humala for proposing the laws, which he says would improve the quality of sluggish government services and a lagging higher-education system. Critics say they would force thousands from their jobs and compromise the autonomy of Peru's universities. Peruvian daily La Republica reported student leaders were due to meet with a lawmaker to discuss the controversial legislation. Clashes erupted after riot police reportedly blocked access to the country's Congress. Several injuries were reported in Lima and at similar protests in several provincial capitals as riot police responded with tear gas and water cannons against protesters, some of whom wielded sticks and were throwing rocks. Protesters have accused authorities of using heavy-handed tactics. Humala, a former military officer, was elected in 2001 as a moderate leftist but critics say he has since drifted to the right. A separate bill to reform universities and tighten standards for professors is pending in Congress. Tertiary institutions such as Lima's acclaimed National University of San Marcos have spoken out against the reform, saying it would strip universities of independent control of their curriculum.