Home | About Us | Archive | Documents | Campaigns & Issues | Links | Contact Us

      43 Disappeared Ayotzinapa Students Ignite Worldwide Condemnation!

      By Daniel Mendoza & Janine Solanki

      On September 26, 2014, news broke that 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico had disappeared. In the following days, the Mexican government claimed that the disappearance of the students was the result of a local dispute and that the fault was with the Mayor of Iguala, the city where the students disappeared. The Mexican people have not accepted this version of events and have shown that they know where the blame lies. #fueelestado or “It was the state” has been broadcast through social media and on signs in massive protests across Mexico and around the world.

      On September 26 th the students had stopped in Iguala on their way to Mexico City to join a rally, which was to commemorate the massacre of protesters prior to the 1968 Olympics. As reported by John Gibler, an independent journalist and author on Mexican issues, “Scores of uniformed municipal police and a handful of masked men dressed in black shot and killed six people, wounded more than twenty, and rounded up and detained forty-three students in a series of attacks carried out at multiple points and lasting more than three hours. At no point did state police, federal police, or the army intercede. The forty-three students taken into police custody are now ‘disappeared.’”

      Ayotzinapa: Not only Ayotzinapa

      The direction being driven by the government of Mexico is in increasing conflict with the people of Mexico. For decades Mexico has faced the plunder of its resources, aided by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which opened Mexico up to US and Canadian corporations as a source of cheap labour and markets. Foreign mining and oil corporations have been especially welcomed with open arms by the government of Mexico. Concessions to foreign investment have been increasingly promoted by the ruling class of Mexico under the leadership of the current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. In December of 2012 constitutional reforms were passed to grant private companies the rights to oil and gas exploration and exploitation. This “energy reform” is on the road to the privatization of Mexico’s state-owned oil company PEMEX.

      What has all this this meant for the people of Mexico? The economic conditions for the majority of the Mexican people is rapidly deteriorating. Poverty not only exists in Mexico – it is on the rise with 53.5 million Mexicans (almost half the population) living under the poverty line as of 2012, half a million more than 2010 according to the Mexican Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy. The Mexican people are also facing increased militarization of their country, with the army and police receiving funding from the “Merida Initiative”, a 2008 agreement between Mexico and the US that has seen over $2.4 billion from the US funneled into weaponry and training for the Mexican army and police. This has included training Mexican soldiers at the U.S. Army’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation - formerly the School of the Americas which has a long history of training the military forces of some of Latin America’s most notorious dictators, and even some of these brutal dictators themselves.

      The increased militarization of Mexico isn’t because Mexico is at war with another country. While the justification is that the military is fighting the “War on Drugs” when the surface is scratched it is apparent that all levels of government in Mexico are involved in behind the scenes dealings with the drug cartels. The war that is being fought is against the Mexican people. This war is being fought when the Mexican military or “private security” is brought in to protect the interests of foreign companies like Canada’s Excellon Resources, which in 2011 had about 300 Mexican army troops, federal and state police surrounding their underground silver- lead-zinc mine in Durango State. This is a war against the Mexican people when anyone who protests against foreign resource extraction is subject to threats, assault and even assassination as was the case for Mariano Abarca, who was assassinated in 2009 when he was leading a campaign against Canada’s Blackfire barite mine in Chiapas.

      The 43 students from Ayotzinapa is not the first number of disappeared or murdered in Mexico, and not the first time the state has been implicated. 49 children were burnt to death and 76 were injured in Sonora on June 5, 2009. 22 people were murdered in Tlatlaya on June 30, 2014. 45 Indigenous people were murdered in Acteal on December 22, 1997. 17 people were murdered in Aguas Blancas on June 28, 1995. The horrifying list goes on, amounting to 100,000 murdered and 25,000 disappeared since 2006 under the justification of the so- called “War on Drugs”. Numerous mass graves have been found in Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua and many other states – each with dozens, even hundreds of unidentified bodies. Mexico is also one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist, according to the International Press Institute, or to be a woman. Over 100 journalists have been murdered in last 10 years. Seven women are brutally murdered every day in Mexico. In many of these cases, the Mexican state has been implicated. However, nationally 80% of murders in Mexico remain unsolved.

      The Mexican people have had enough of the so-called “War on Drugs” and the policies of the Mexican government which are driving Mexico further into poverty and selling off their resources to foreign plunder at the expense of the Mexican people and the environment. Grassroots movements across Mexico are organizing against the exploitative policies of the Mexican government. Where a foreign mining corporation sets up shop, it is sure to face the organization of people against it. Especially in the state of Guerrero, home of the 43 Ayotzinapa students, for decades communities have been organizing their own social services, means of communication and security. The Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos teachers college where the 43 students were from is part of this community organization outside of the jurisdiction of the Mexican state. The college is part of a network of schools with the purpose of serving the poor and illiterate peasant population of the country, along progressive and anti-capitalist ideas.

      “Ayotzinapa Estamos Contigo! Ayotzinapa We Are With You!”

      The case of the 43 disappeared students has ignited protests and organizing, mainly led by youth and students, throughout Mexico and around the world. #yamecanse or “Enough, I’m tired” has sprung up to express the sentiments of Mexican people who do not want to see the violence against their people continued under the corrupt hands of the Mexican state. In Ayotzinapa itself the parents of the disappeared students and the surviving students have continued organizing, searching themselves for the disappeared students and demanding “they took them alive, we want them alive.” This is to mean, they will not accept that the 43 students will be yet another unsolved crime. Exactly what has happened to the students must be exposed, and the government of Mexico must be held accountable.

      In Vancouver and around the world, committees are working to spread awareness about the 43 Ayotzinapa students. While organizers in Mexico face the dangers of further repression, the Mexican government has less freedom to move against protesters while the support of people internationally is on this case. The parents of the 43 students and the student movement in Ayotzinapa are asking supporters around the world to join protests wherever they are to keep the pressure up on the Mexican government to not let this case become another “unsolved case”. They have also asked that international supporters help the organizing efforts within Ayotzinapa, with the campaign to fundraise for radio transmitters to increase the reach of the radio station in Ayotzinapa and to setup a community radio station in San Luis Acatlan. In Vancouver this campaign has been organized by Vancouver Solidarity with Ayotzinapa, who have been organizing events and working to promote the case of the 43 disappeared students to the broader public in Vancouver and beyond. This has been in conjunction with the movement “Global Action for Ayotzinapa” which has been coordinating actions around the world. www.ustired2.com

      Throughout Mexico and around the world the case of the 43 disappeared students has become about much more than the 43. The movement that has grown around this case has voiced the demands of the Mexican people against the exploitative and repressive policies of the Mexican government that have amounted to cases like the 43 disappeared students becoming a commonplace occurrence. The people of Mexico and supporters around the world will keep organizing and mobilizing for their demands of justice for the 43 students, for an end to US government support of the Mexican government, military and police, and for an end to the government of Mexico’s war on the people of Mexico.

      Back to Article Listing