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Former Harvard Student Seized as Rebel in Mexico

By Garrett Epps

Richard E. Hyland '69-70, once a prominent member of Harvard's radical movement, has been arrested by Mexican police for alleged revolutionary activities in Mexico City.

Hyland, who was enrolled in the University of the Americas there, was arrested on September 14 or 15, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

The first public announcement of the arrest was made at a police press conference on Sept. 17, at which Mexican authorities exhibited a group of prisoners--including Hyland and one other American--who they said were members of a revolutionary organization called the Movimiento de Accion Revolucionario (Revolutionary Action Movement). Police charged that the group was responsible for a series of bank robberies in Mexico City and elsewhere.

Hyland in Prison

The other American was deported from Mexico last week. But Hyland still is being held in Lucumberi Federal Prison in Mexico City. Authorities still have not announced the formal charges against Hyland. Under Mexican law, he may be held in prison for as long as a year before charges are brought.

A member of the Embassy's Consular section visited Hyland on Sept. 21--the earliest date on which the Mexican authorities would allow visits--and gave him a list of Mexican lawyers who have handled cases for other Americans, the Embassy spokesman said. The spokesman said he did not know if Hyland had obtained a lawyer.

Gerardo Mendez, chancellor of the Mexican consulate in Boston, said that even if a lawyer helps Hyland get released on bond, he will be forbidden to leave Mexico City before his trial. He added, however, that under Mexican procedures it will be increasingly difficult to win release on bond as time goes by.

"They should get a lawyer and get it fast or he could be there for a long time," Mendez said. "Fighting against the government is a very serious matter in Mexico."

As a student here, Hyland was an important figure in Harvard's radical movement; among students and Faculty his name became almost synonymous with "student radical."

He was placed on probation for participating in a sit-in at Paine Hall in December, 1968. Franklin Ford, then dean of the Faculty, cancelled a Faculty meeting scheduled there when students entered the balcony of the auditorium and refused to leave, saying they wished to watch the proceedings.

Hyland was active in the 1968-69 SDS campaign against ROTC as a member of the "New Left Caucus." After about 200 students occupied University Hall on April 9, 1969, in support of demands which included the abolition of ROTC, Hyland was elected chairman of the ad hoc meeting of insurgent students inside the occupied building.

He was arrested in the police raid on Harvard yard the next morning and charged with criminal trespass. Although they were convicted at first, he and 174 other students won dismissal of the charges on appeal.

After the national split in SDS during the summer of 1969, Hyland joined with members of the New Left Caucus to organize Boston's November Action Coalition (NAC). This group led massive demonstrations at MIT in November, 1969, and sponsored a march which turned into a riot in Harvard Square in April, 1970.

Hyland next attracted attention for two articles in the Crimson of Oct. 22, 1969, which attacked Harvard's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). The CFIA had been the target the month before for a raid by Boston's chapter of Weatherman, and Hyland defended that action, writing. "The only reason I wouldn't blow up the Center for International Affairs is that I might got caught."

Syndicated columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak published a column about the article in newspapers across the country, stating erroneously that it was a "manifesto" of the Crimson and that it contributed to a "climate of fear" on the Harvard campus.

Hyland again came to the attention of Harvard officials on Dec. 11, 1969, when he and three other members of Harvard NAC attempted to drown out Dean May's announcement of an injunction against members of the Organization for Black Unity (OBU) who were occupying University Hall. The four NAG members stood close to May, shouting loudly and following after him.

The four were brought before the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities for "intense personal harassment" of May, but were acquitted because the charge was not included in the Interim Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities. A subsequent provision included such an offense, and four students were convicted last June of harassing Sargent Kennedy '28 secretary to the Corporation.

Hyland graduated in June, 1970, and went to Latin America the next month. He has stayed out of the U.S. since then

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