As Mexican journalist Luis Hernández Navarro said, in response to a question on why the government would kill normalistas: “Because they can.” He added, “You see this in the media and society that the police believe that they won’t be tried for their crimes.” (Source: Waging Nonviolence)
This newsletter aims to provide a compilation of recent analytic articles and comprehensive media coverage surrounding the recent case of the forced disappearance and still missing 43 students of the rural Normal School Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. The lives of 6 students were claimed and 43 of their classmates have remained disappeared since 26 September when, on return to their school from the city of Iguala, they were attacked by the local police force, taken into custody and since then have no reappeared. Local authorities, NGO’s and citizens in Oaxaca, as well as on an international scale, have expressed their indignation and demand justice and an immediate response from the federal government.
Source: The Guardian, 30/10/2014
Parents of 43 student teachers who went missing more than a month ago in southern Mexico emerged from a marathon meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto frustrated and angry at what they see as a lack of commitment to find their children. “We told the president that we don’t trust his government,” Felipe de la Cruz told a press conference after the meeting, which lasted five hours. “It’s been more than 30 days and they still haven’t found our boys.”
Source: The New Yorker, 30/10/2014
Many in Mexico have wondered why the missing forty-three have inspired such outrage in a country that has long since grown anesthetized to mass violence. In the past, government authorities and many in the complicit media have relied on a worn playbook: stigmatize the victims, depict them as responsible for their own fates, or point out ways in which they were not “ordinary Mexicans.” Some have been trying to do the same with the missing forty-three, but the accusations and insinuations don’t resonate. Most of the students were still in their teens, in their first semester at the school, and came from impoverished communities that a majority of Mexicans can identify with; they can’t credibly be criminalized as “guerrillas” or “narcos.”
Related article on CIP Americas: Disappeared Youth Spark Protests in Mexico’s Worst Political Crisis in Decades
Source: Proceso (MexicoVoices), 29/10/2014
More than thirty-three days after the disappearance of the 43 young Ayotzinapa Normal School students, the government of Enrique Peña Nieto is caught in a perfect storm. On Tuesday, October 28, the case escalated to the point where it arrived at the White House. For the first time in two years, Barack Obama’s spokesperson did not put a little star on the Peña Nieto administration. Worse: He described the situation as “worrisome”, given the case that so far remains unsolved. Inside of one month, the government tried three strategies that, obviously, have failed. First, they wanted to focus the matter as an isolated issue on the national agenda, and they attempted to criminalize the Normal School students themselves. This strategy succeeded only in Guerrero; specifically, in the Municipality of Iguala, where organized crime dominates the police and mayor’s office. It was not a national crisis, and even less a result of a bad federal strategy for combating organized crime. The Normal School students were probably linked to one of the cartels operating in the area.
Source: CIP Americas, 22/10/2014
The movement to support the students and hold all levels of government accountable for the crime is growing. As the federal government insists that organized crime is behind the disappearance with just a few corrupt politicians, at the march not one of the chants or slogans or demands was directed at organized crime. All laid responsibility at the feet of the government, primarily the state government. First, because citizens can’t make demands of organized crime. Criminals are criminals. It is the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens, which in Guerrero is clearly not happening. Second, because the protesters view the drug cartels and the state as partners.
Source: Waging Non Violence, 21/10/2014
The flames started to engulf the municipal palace of Chilpancingo in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero as the rage built within the students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College who, for over three weeks, have received no answers concerning the whereabouts of 43 of their fellow students. The last time the group of missing students were seen was in the custody of Mexican municipal police forces, who detained them after opening fire on their caravan in an attack that killed six people and injured dozens more. This massacre and subsequent disappearance of the students, known as “normalistas,” has sparked an international movement demanding that the 43 students be found alive. But it has also called into question the deep ties between drug cartels and Mexican politicians.
Source: Deutsche Welle, 17/10/2014
(Interview with Edgardo Biscaglia, researcher on the impact of economics and law on the development of countries at Columbia University in New York) The disappearance of 43 college students in Mexico has led to mass protests against the government. Corruption expert Edgardo Buscaglia is calling for support from the international community. “Corruption is both father and mother to organized violence in Mexico. Politicians seek out ties to organized crime in order to eliminate their opponents. Politicians are involved in the massacres organized by the cartels. Corruption provides Mexican and international gangs with an incentive to set up shop in Mexico – we’re talking about groups from Central and South America and even Europe. Mexico is heaven on Earth for any criminal group, because they can earn money from corruption and have practically nothing to fear from the side of the law…There is a passive complicity on the part of the European Union and its governments, including Germany. The large corporations from these countries have huge turnover and operate key manufacturing sites in Mexico. They operate on a politically protected market, which is why they go home with reports about how wonderful Mexico is. They lead their governments to believe that everything should remain as it is. The international community is too lenient with Mexico, because money has clouded their senses.”
Source: La Jornada (MexicoVoices), 27/10/2014
The Mexican State is going through a profound crisis. As a result of the grave events in Iguala, once again, the violence of a terrorist State embedded in a chain of corruption-impunity-simulation has been shown. With its system of smokescreens and its pseudo-democratic facade, the political class’s pact of impunity blew up in the face of Enrique Peña Nieto, statesman of the year. The humanitarian catastrophe of the Calderón administration, which has deepened during Peña Nieto’s tenure, has forced the Executive Branch to conduct damage control operations. Objective? Evade responsibility for crimes of State and crimes against humanity formed after the extrajudicial killings of six people, and the torture and forced disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa normal school students in Iguala.
The forced disappearance of the students from Ayotzinapa was a joint effort of the municipal police and hitmen working for the Guerreros Unidos cartel. There is no difference between one and the other. During the day the criminals work in a uniform; at night they do it dressed as civilians. In the criminal state that is ruling over vast parts of Guerrero, drug traffickers and police officers are two sides of the same coin. They kidnapped and shot the young people from Ayotzinapa because they could. It was not at all hard for them to take away their lives or carry them off illegally. The current atmosphere in which the normal school students are demonized and in which there is general impunity and a criminal state made them think that nothing would happen to them; that they had the license to kill.
Recommended reading and resources on the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa:
Crisis in Mexico: Could Forty-Three Missing Students Spark a Revolution? – analysis by The New Yorker
Ayotzinapa Parents, Students Say Meeting With Peña Nieto “Unsatisfactory” – report on parents’ and presidents’ contrasting positions
Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico: A Crime Against Humanity – explanation of networks of complicity and drug trafficking powers
Zapatistas march for Ayotzinapa – EZLN and civil society organisations march in solidarity with Ayotzinapa
The Narco State Murders and Disappears Students in Mexico – summarising blog and further recommended reading
Ayotzinapa: One Month Since 43 Students Disappeared – useful timeline report of events
Survivors Describe Police Attack in Mexico: ‘If You Moved, They Fired. If You Yelled, They Fired’ – detailed account of the events on the night of September 26
DOCUMENT – MEXICO: FURTHER INFORMATION: DISAPPEARED STUDENTS STILL MISSING IN MEXICO – Urgent Action by Amnesty International
URGENT ACTION: Students attacked in Guerrero; 43 remain missing – Urgent Action Tlachinollan Center for Human Rights
Human Rights Oaxaca on Twitter
English news, inspiration & resources regarding human rights, gender related violence and territorial conflicts in indigenous Mexico administered by NGO ‘Educa’