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    Stronger than Ever:
    Activists in Vancouver Mark Seven Months of Protest for the 43 Disappeared Ayotzinapa Students

    By Janine Solanki

    April 26, 2015 marked seven months since the violent disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico. On September 26, 2014 the students were traveling from Ayotzinapa, Mexico on their way to Mexico City to participate in a protest rally. However while passing through the city of Iguala in Guerrero state, their bus was attacked with gunfire by local police and men in black masks who killed six people and kidnapped 43 students. While the government of Mexico has attempted to offload blame to local officials and has failed to investigate what has happened to the 43 students, huge protests throughout Mexico and echoed world-wide have made it clear that the people hold the state responsible for the disappearance of not only the 43 missing students, but also the over 100,000 murdered and 25,000 disappeared that have been the victims of Mexico's so-called “war on drugs”.

    In Vancouver, this seven month anniversary was marked with the rally “7 Months Without Them: We Are Still Missing 43 from Ayotzinapa” organized by the Vancouver Solidarity with Ayotzinapa Collective. Protesters, many who have been supporters of the events for the 43 students over the last seven months, joined together in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery in Downtown Vancouver. Holding signs bearing the faces and names of the missing students, those gathered raised their voices together to demand “They took them alive, we want them alive!” This has become a central demand in the struggle for the 43 missing students, and reflects the determination that the Mexican government must be held accountable and must give answers for what has happened to the 43 students.

    The rally culminated what has been a successful month of struggle in solidarity with Ayotzinapa. From April 12th to April 17th, five public events were held as part of the “Ayotzinapa to Ottawa Caravan” tour in BC. The tour, organized by CIPO and Co-Development Canada (CODEV) in BC and supported by many other organizations, brought to Vancouver Hilda Legideño Vargas, the mother of one of the 43 disappeared students; Jorge Luis Clemente Balbuena, a member of the student committee of the Ayotzinapa teachers' college; and Vidulfo Rosales Sierra, a lawyer from the human-rights center Tlachinollan and the legal representative of the families of the 43 disappeared students. The first event of the tour was on Sunday April 12th with a panel titled “The Ayotzinapa Disappearances and Mexico's Human Rights Crisis”. Later that day a dinner and cultural presentation was held with the title “The People Help the People: Coast Salish with Ayotzinapa”. In a moving blanketing ceremony, the mother Hilda Legideño Vargas was given a traditional star blanket by Indigenous Elder Kelly White with the participation of Vancouver Solidarity with Ayotzinapa activists and supporters. On Thursday April 16th the delegation traveled to the Secwepemc Indigenous Nation in South-Central BC for the event “Ayotzinapa to Secwepemculecw - Love for the 43 Disappeared Mexican Students and their Families” where activists from the Secwepemc Nation held a feast and cultural event for the visiting delegation.

    This month of activity for the 43 Ayotzinapa students shows the resolve of activists and supporters in Vancouver to keep up the struggle for Ayotzinapa and to keep supporting the struggle in Mexico for a better and more just society. At the recent rally marking seven months without the 43 students, the Vancouver Solidarity with Ayotzinapa Collective vowed to continue organizing rallies for the 43 missing students on the 26th of every month. Fire This Time encourages all who support justice to support this cause and to come out to the next rally for the 43 Ayotzinapa students on May 26th at the Vancouver Art Gallery. For more information search “Solidaridad Con Ayotzinapa Vancouver” on facebook or follow @AyotziVancouver on twitter. Alos you can check out our web site www.firethistime.net.

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