ASU's Mexico campus is scene of pay protest

Posted: February 23, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

Protesters stating that they have not been paid for work related to the construction of the new Arkansas State University Campus Queretaro in Mexico held a rally at the campus this week.

Arkansas State University System spokesman Jeff Hankins said in an email that the university oversees only academics at the campus in the Mexican city of Colon.

A private foundation based in Mexico, Arkansas State University CQ, A.C., invested money to build academic and residential buildings, as well as other campus facilities. In September, Arkansas State University released a statement describing $100 million coming from the foundation led by Mexico businessman Ricardo Gonzalez.

"Arkansas State is not financially responsible for the construction nor operation of the campus," Hankins said. The university receives a commission tied to student enrollment.

The school held a grand opening in September attended by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and had 250 students enrolled this past fall, Hankins said.

Cesar Ricardo Delgado Ibanez, a spokesman for the city of Colon, said about 40 people attended a peaceful rally Tuesday at the campus that lasted approximately one hour. Those at the rally said they had not been paid for past work, he said. The city has no position on the private dispute, he said.

News outlet El Financiero, one of several publications to report on the protest, included comments from Mayor Alejandro Ochoa. The news outlet reported that Ochoa said the protesters were tied to construction or supplier businesses and seeking payment.

The campus is being built in phases, and Hankins said he did not know of any delays resulting from lack of payment.

"It's our understanding that the protest involved a subcontractor that was fired by the general contractor," Hankins said.

Metro on 02/23/2018