Struggling for justice in Mexico

by Nayeli Jimenez Cano

Since September 26, 2014, a phrase has been heard all around the world — “they took them alive, we want them back alive.” These words reflect the unfortunate night when 43 rural students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico, were forcibly disappeared. They were travelling from Ayotzinapa to Mexico City to a national protest to commemorate the 2nd of October. Every year hundreds of students go to the streets to demand justice for the hundreds of students that were killed by military the 2nd of October in 1968 at Tlatelolco, a public plaza of Mexico City.

Ironically, while they were addressing to demand justice, policemen stopped in the highway of Iguala, Guerrero. Police shot them; 6 students were killed and 25 were injured. Then policemen gave the students to a narco group, Guerreros Unidos. They have been missing ever since.

Unfortunately, these students are not the only ones; the numbers of missed and killed people in Mexico can be counted in the thousands. The current situation of Mexico has several political roots that need to be understood from a broad perspective. For that reason and in order to raise awareness to the international community, an event called “Struggling for Justice in Mexico” was presented on June 23 at the Civic Media Center.

The event started with music from Tierra Libre, a Latin American band based in Gainesville. They performed Latin revolutionary songs, and each of them was accompanied by a critical poem written by Silvestre Hernandez, one of the band members.

The forced disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa has highlighted the State’s actions violating fundamental Human Rights but also its failure in conducting a proper search and investigation that should lead to the whereabouts of the missing students.

Since the signing of Plan Merida in 2008 by former presidents Bush and Calderon, the levels of violence in Mexico have become the highest in all Mexican history.

According to this plan, the U.S. has given weapons and provided training to intensify the narco-war that Calderon started in 2006. As a result, Mexico has become highly militarized.

UF history professor Paul Ortiz talked about the history of social struggles in Mexico, from independence to neoliberalism. In his participation, he remarked the character of social organization of the Mexican population. He also explained that rural schools, just like the Ayotzinapa school of the missing students, are the heritage of the Mexican Revolution that demanded land and freedom.

In a country where the State cannot administrate justice and where armed forces are colluded with criminal organizations, their inhabitants have found new strategies of justice beyond the Mexican legal systems. This is the case of the self-defense communitarian police in some Mexican estates such as Guerrero and Michoacán where these groups have been the objects of political repression. In this sense, Stephen Durham, activist and leader of the Freedom Socialist Party, talked about Nestora Salgado, a Mexican-U.S. citizen that went back to Mexico to fight with the self-defense police and now is in a high-security prison.

It is necessary to break with the official arguments that all the problems of Mexico are because of the narcos, especially when it is clear that the armed forces in Mexico, police and military, are in collusion with criminal bands and also because the State has not provided solutions but instead it has applied several reforms that are affecting the already damaged quality of life of the Mexicans. We need to speak up because until now there is a silence in the international political sphere that has not highlighted and condemned the Mexican authorities in their omission of providing security to the population. It has been almost one year since the 43 students have been missing and seven years since thousands of people have been murdered, tortured and disappeared.

The case of 43 students must be the final episode in this brutal narco war. We should not bury them in the grave of forget. International solidarity is needed, not only for asking a minute of silence but for speaking up and making visible the current situation of the millions of Mexicans that demands a dignified life.

To get involved in this struggle for justice, check out the resources below:

– Contact information for organizers, compiled by the parents of the missing students:

– Petition to end the Plan of Merida:

– International organizing page for events around the globe:

– Nestora Salgado:

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