43 Missing Students, State Crimes & Resistance in Mexico

(by Dawn Paley, via Media Co-op)

Guerrero's state congress burns during the widespread protests that took place in response to the police kidnapping/murders of the students from Ayotzinapa.  Tuesday, October 13. (Photo: El Universal)
Guerrero’s state congress burns during the widespread protests that took place in response to the police kidnapping/murders of the students from Ayotzinapa.
Tuesday, October 13. (Photo: El Universal)

The story of the 43 young men, students at a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, who were disappeared in Iguala, Mexico on September 26th is one that isn’t going to go away.

Recall that they were kidnapped by police and nothing has been heard from them since. The Mexican government and mainstream media are relying heavily on the narrative that the responsible party in these crimes is a “drug gang” called Guerreros Unidos. That narrative distorts and distracts from despicable state crimes by pointing to organized crime and corrupt cops as being solely responsible.

This is a short update meant to demystify official claims, which are (as usual) finding great echo in the media, as well as to bring folks up to date on ongoing acts of resistance in Mexico.

On the day the students were detained by police before also being disappeared by them, six people were killed by gunshot wounds when cops opened fire on various vehicles. There are now ample survivors who have bravely told media what took place that day, and they’re not talking about attacks by Guerreros Unidos or some other crime group. They describe how police fired directly on groups clearly identified as students. Here’s a snippet from an excellent piece by Vice Mexico:

“When it started, one of us said, ‘Don’t be afraid, friends, they are firing to the sky’,” Mario went on. “The buses stopped, and that’s when I saw the bullets were coming toward us.”

The young men began panicking. Mario and three other friends got off, each also wearing the red jacket of their Ayotzinapa uniforms. They saw that the gunfire was coming from men inside two municipal police cruisers. Trying to defend himself, Mario threw rocks in their direction.

As bullets kept hitting the buses, they ran to the first bus. “But then we saw that they were ten police cars, surrounding us. We had no where to run and no rocks to defend ourselves,” Mario said.

“One of the bullets hit Aldo, who fell right next to me. I saw how a pool of blood formed. I yelled at them that they already hit one of us, and they began firing more,” he went on. “If you moved, they fired, if you yelled or talked, they fired. They fired so much, from in front, and from behind, that us, the ones who got off, we hid in between the first and second bus.”

mass of riot pigs and angry students who hate killer cops
Anti-riot policemen are on guard as students try to get into Government palace, in Chilpancingo (Photo: Jose Luis de la Cruz)

Yesterday it was revealed that the 9-10 mass graves that were found outside of Iguala almost two weeks ago do not contain the bodies of the 43 missing students. We now know that at least 28 more people were killed around that time, they were tortured, cut into pieces, and burned before being buried outside of Iguala. We must now speak of various massacres in Iguala (not to mention mass graves containing nine bodies found in April and another nine in May of this year on the outskirts of the city).

But the government of Mexico’s involvement in these crimes goes beyond police actions and their collaboration with paramilitary groups in the region. It was reported that authorities also impeded the work of an Argentine Forensic team tasked with identifying the remains in the graves.

“There were two days of agnoy and complications, and on the third day things were normalized,” [according to a lawyer on the scene].

Because of the loss of those initial hours, they arrived at the first five graves–out of which they took 28 bodies–once the exhumations were already done. “They didn’t have the opportunity to participate in that.”

The mayor of Iguala, who belongs to the sham leftist PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution), is on the run with his wife. Note that governor of Guerrero is also a member of the PRD.

I guess that’s my lead in to update on the resistance and organization taking place in the face of this massive, ongoing tragedy.

There were marches throughout the country a week ago today, as well as in cities around the world, including Vancouver and Montreal. Coming back to my segue-way, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the so called “moral leader” of the sham-left PRD party, was attacked during the October 8th demo by protestors in Mexico City who threw garbage and yelled at him and his entourage. But the marches were big, and there were lots of them, and the attack on Cárdenas was just a bit of a sideshow that demonstrates how pissed people are at all of the political parties in this country. Of the main protest slogans in the marches is: ¡Vivos los llevaron, vivos los queremos! which translates as: They were taken alive, we want them back alive!

Militant highway blockades have been taking place in various locations. There was one this morning on a major highway in the south of Mexico City.

Also today the National University (UNAM) and various other large universities in Mexico City (UAM, IPN and UACM) entered their second day of a two day student strike, with another two day strike proposed for next week.

Lastly, for the moment, on October 13th the State Congress of Guerrero was burned by protesters. The building will not re-open for some time and government activities have been suspended until an alternative seat of government is found. Chilpancingo’s City Hall was also set on fire.

(An unpleasant endnote, but over the weekend a leader who has been active in resisting a dam in Sinaloa state was killed while he broadcasted live during his weekly radio show. More on that soon.)

Zapatistas march for Ayotzinapa in San Cristobal

(via CIP Americas Program / Upside Down World)

Some twenty thousand members of the bases of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation marched briskly through San Cristobal de las Casas on October 8. They gathered on the outskirts of the city, under a blue sky stained with clouds that threatened rain and then walked in long, orderly lines toward the central plaza of the city. The long river of Zapatistas moved fluidly and silently; the only sound was the steps of their shoes and boots. They carried signs that read “Your rage is ours”, “Your pain is our pain” and “You are not alone”.

front of the march with banners (ezln, mexican flag, signs of support for victims)

The message was for the students of  Ayotzinapa, Guerrero and for the families that found out that on on Sept. 26-27 their sons were killed or kidnapped as they traveled by bus, at the hands of municipal police in complicity with the drug trafficking organization Guerreros Unidos. Two weeks from the attacks there are 6 dead and 43 disappeared.

“In Ayotzinapa the state appears as the intersection between official powers and criminal powers that dispute political control, using new forms of social discipline. We have arrived at a point of dehumanization,” said Dolores González Saravia, director of the NGO SerAPaz, during the presentation of the 2013-2014 report of the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights.

masked zapatista mujeres showing solidarity with the disappeared

The bone-chilling story of these youth and the indignation at the corruption of the police and the Mexican institutions spurred many acts of solidaryt. Oct. 8 more than 60 cities in Mexico and throughout the world responded to the call to mobilize. They organized marches, roadblocks, occupations and blockades of government offices.

In Chilpancingo, the capital of the state of Guerrero, thousands of students demonstrated, along with teachers and other citizens, while the community police of the  Unión de Pueblos Organizados de Guerrero (UPOEG) organized an independent search for the 43 students. In Mexico City 15,000 people joined the march. In Barcelona, New York, Montreal and Buenos Aires they showed pictures of the youth, talked about their personal stories, demanded their appearance alive and punishment for the guilty.

“The institutions are not going to do justice, they won’t bring justice, since the whole chain of command is corrupt, but to demand the appearance of the students alive is a form of pressure to present them if they know where they are. However, even this is not complete justice, because presentation of the missing will not repair the incalculable damage suffered by the students and their families,” one Zapatista supporter who preferred to remain anonymous told us.

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In San Cristobal de las Casas members of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle joined students, teachers, famlies and civic organizations that organized two marches that came together in the plaza.

The EZLN route went through the plaza, a where it has a long history, crossing through without stopping. The Zapatistas marched in silence just as they had on Dec. 21, 2013 and May of 2011, when the indigenous organization answered another call in solidarity with the victims of state violence, launched by the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity. Then the Zapatistas joined national marches against the war on the cartels started by  ex president Felipe Calderón. The Mexican government’s  anti-drug crusade, instead of decreasing crime, caused some 100,000 deaths and 30,000 disappeared. Today the country is inundated by corrupt institutions, drug cartels and paramilitary groups; the EZLN leader Galeano, assassinated by paramilitary groups May 2, is one of the victims.

Most of the Zapatistas who marched on Oct. 8 were young, like the students of  Ayotzinapa. The tourists that strolled through the streets of the colonial city were amazed at the unexpected procession. The people of San Cristóbal de Las Casas –a historically conservative city–looked out from the stores and restaurants and took pictures of the long march of masked indigenous people. No one spoke, some whispered. One women outside a hotel applauded, shouting, “Long live the people!” and the eyes of some of the Zapatistas smiled behind their masks.

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