It is the event that has captured international headlines and captivated much of the world for the last two months: the disappearance of 43 students from rural Guerrero, Mexico. They were taken by local police, turned to a local gang and are presumed murdered. If that wasn’t enough, the governments timid response has reached a boiling point and there are now daily protests throughout Mexico demanding their return.
Mexico attorney general Murillo karam offered some details during the press conference last week: the bodies were left to burn for 15 hours and then tossed to a nearby river. Massive protests have ensued in Mexico City and abroad.
This Saturday, several Bay Area organizations have put together a march that will begin at noon at 24th and Mission to march and protest against the Mexican government response to what’s happened in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.
Here’s some information on what happened:
On September 26, 43 student teachers were disappeared and six people died after an encounter with police in Iguala, Guerrero. The students from the rural school of Ayotzinapa, were raising funds and got a hold of buses to attend a bigger march in Mexico City to protest education reform in the midst of the 46th commemoration of the student killings in Tlatelolco on October 2nd, 1968.
Iguala’s mayor, José Luis Abarca, and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda, gave the order to municipal police to detain the students as soon as they reached Iguala because Pineda was afraid the students would disrupt the 2nd governance report of the mayor.
That day, six people were killed, three of them students and dozens more were taken by police and handed to Guerreros Unidos, a gang with family and political ties with Iguala’s mayor and wife.
22 municipal police were later detained for allegedly having participated in the disappearance and colluding with the cartel.
After that, the mayor and his wife fled the city of Iguala. They were found at a working class neighborhood in Mexico City on November 4th. However, Father Solalinde has challenged the ground in which the capture took place. Here’s a translation from an article published today by Aristegui Noticias:
Father Alejandro Solalinde said former mayor of Iguala, Guerrero, José Luis Abarca Velázquez, “was captured in Veracruz and a cover-up was put together in opposing territory in Mexico City, in Iztapalapa, were many voters are registered. Collusion with PRD was underlined there, the party that had been complacent of the PRI, same as the PAN.”
According to La Jornada, the priest’s statements were made before hundreds of students of the Universidad de Guadalajara who met at Enrique Díaz de León auditorium, for the conference Ayotzinapa, Truth and Justice.
Father (Solalinde) assured that the government knew well before what happened with the 43 student teachers from Ayotzinapa, but administered the information with elections in mind.
Solalinde stated that the federal government, through the PGR, “has been administering this information to take advantage of political times. It is not true that they are interested in the tragedy. They are interested in taking advantage from it for elections… It is about political damage control, a partisan damage control. They have been manipulating all information for the benefit of the PRI-government.”
Solalinde added that the PRI in Guerrero is looking to recuperate the state’s government through several strategies, such as criminalizing protests, blaming other and “showing that they can do it better”.
Solalinde expressed that this is “a filthy country” that citizens suffer from, and a narco-state that doesn’t govern but instead manages neoliberalism and punishes dissidence, protests in the country are “a sign of the time”, an “irrefutable prove that there is a need for change” in which the church and the youth would have to be sensible to, he said.
Further more, Solalinde stated that the church’s hierarchy is part of the national tragedy in their attitude of “keeping company” to a government that provides no results in safety nor economic issues.
“The catholic church has also been a partner in leadership and top discussion in a simulated government that has been given a place as if it were a real responsible government”, he said. READ MORE
On October 4th, as authorities were looking for the missing students they came across several mass graves. The bodies in these mass graves did not belong to the missing students, however, but pointed to a bigger issue regarding mass killings and disappearances of people due to the collusion between state and local police and cartels.
Meanwhile, president Enrique Peña Nieto’s response is slow and bland as the country’s uproar grows. After several major academic institutions declared strike and massive protests have been held in Mexico City and Guerrero, the state’s governor stepped down.
More than a month after the students’ disappearance, the president decided to hold a meeting with the parents although the result of it was inconclusive.
Parents, later declare they have been bribed to stay silent. Here’s a translation of an article published November 1st at La Jornada:
Family and parents of disappeared school teachers in Ayotzinapa got together yesterday with students from Colegio de México and from UNAM, in two different meetings, to report that 15 days after what happened in Iguala, government officials from Guerrero offered them $100,000 pesos each to give up the search of their children.
“People from the government came telling us: ‘you know what, do you need anything?, can we help you with anything? Look, sign these papers, we’ll give you $100,000 pesos’ For what? To keep our mouths shut”, said Bernabé Abraham Gaspar, father of Adán Abraham de la Cruz, who was disappeared along with another 42 student teachers last September 26th.
“Many parents were sought to give ‘em the amount. We said: ‘My son is really not worth one hundred thousand pesos.’ This is why we visit school after school looking for help to get our sons back”, he continued. Read the story in Spanish
For a well curated source of news in English, follow @mexicanreporter on Twitter, a side project by Mission Local reporters Rigoberto Hernandez and Andrea Valencia.
And here is a list of information in English:
A time line of events, and more coverage from VICE.
A map crowdsources people that have gone missing in Mexico’s drug war, from the Washington Post.
Ayotzinapa, exposing the fallacy of the ‘Mexican Moment’, from Brown Political Review
Mexico’s Barbarous Tradegy, Op-Ed in the NYTimes.
Gang members confess to killing 43 in Iguala, from the Independent.
Mexico: A country at breaking point from Al Jazeera.
Mexican Drug Cartels are Worse than ISIS from Al Jazeera.
Video on the protests in Mexico from the NYTimes.
On the detention of the mayor Abarca and his wife from the NYTimes.
Mexico’s president was given a mansion by train entrepreneur from the LA Times.